Metatarsalgia means pain in the ball of your foot (the sole of your foot before your toes). This is where the heads of five long bones in the foot (metatarsal bones) are located.
Many things can cause metatarsalgia, including being overweight, wearing high-heeled shoes, having a stiff ankle or heel tendon (Achilles tendon), Morton’s neuroma, and having high foot arches.
The main symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of your foot. This pain may get worse if you stand, walk, or run on it. The ball of your foot may also feel sore to touch. Metatarsalgia typically develops slowly over time, rather than coming on quickly.
It can affect both of your feet at the same time.
Metatarsalgia symptoms can vary slightly depending on what is causing the condition. For example, if you have pain, swelling, and/or bruising that started after doing vigorous or repetitive exercise, you may have sprained a metatarsal bone.
Metatarsalgia generally causes pain where the heads of your metatarsal bones are. This is the area on the bottom of your foot, just below your toes. However, it can sometimes cause pain in the top of the foot.
There are some self-help methods you can try to alleviate metatarsalgia pain at home. These include:
Avoid wearing high heels or shoes with pointy toes, and try not to walk or stand for long periods of time.
See your doctor for metatarsalgia treatment if the pain:
You should also seek medical help if you have tingling or numbness in your foot, or if you have diabetes.
Medical treatment for metatarsalgia generally involves treating any underlying conditions, like diabetes or arthritis. You may need surgery if you have a condition like hammer or claw toes, or Morton’s neuroma.
Depending on the cause and your symptoms, metatarsalgia can take weeks to months to heal.
If metatarsalgia is caused by lifestyle factors, you can make a few changes to improve your symptoms and prevent them from returning. For example, you can swap tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes for softer shoes with low heels and a wider fit.
If your symptoms do not improve after two weeks of making lifestyle changes, see your doctor. You may have another condition that needs treating before the pain gets better.
The best shoes to prevent or relieve metatarsalgia are wide-fitting, soft-soled and low-heeled shoes. High heels or tight-fitting shoes can put pressure on your metatarsal bones, leading to metatarsalgia.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.
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