Metatarsalgia
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition
Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain and inflammation to the ball of your foot. You may also feel pain in the big toe or the three toes closest to the big toe.

Metatarsalgia

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes
Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of conditions:

Risk Factors
Factors that increase your chance of developing metatarsalgia include:

  • Feet with high arches
  • Feet with abnormally long bones
  • Claw/ Hammer toes
  • High-impact sports
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or high heels
  • Increased age—age-related atrophy of fat pad
  • Problems with circulation
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
Claw Toes

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms
Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Numbness or tingling in toes or foot
  • Pain when walking
  • Toe pain
  • Pain with movement
  • Sharp pain
  • Feeling like you are walking on pebbles
  • Associated back or leg pain
  • Weakness in the limb
Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist.

Images may need to be taken of your foot. This can be done with x-ray .

Treatment
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Rest
Rest is an important part of treatment. Elevate your foot on pillows and ice it to speed healing.

Orthotics
Your doctor may prescribe shoe inserts. They may help lessen pain and provide support. Your doctor may also recommend insoles. They may be shock absorbers, arch supporters, or special pads that protect your foot.

Medication
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may be advised to reduce pain and inflammation. A corticosteroid shot is sometimes injected into the foot to lessen pain.

Surgery
If there are foot problems that are causing the metatarsalgia, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery depends upon what is causing the problem.

Diet and Exercise
If excessive weight is contributing to the foot pain, you may be asked to lose weight through diet and exercise.

Prevention
To help reduce your chance of getting metatarsalgia, take the following steps:




RESOURCES:
American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine

American Physical Therapy Association

American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

References:
Metatarsalgia. American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acfaom.org/information-for-patients/common-conditions/metatarsalgia . Accessed November 5, 2008.

Metatarsalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2014.

Pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia). Merck Manuals website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec05/ch072/ch072b.html . Updated December 2012. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Last Reviewed February 2014



Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

 

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

 

To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.