Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury with resultant pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.
The primary symptom is pain around the heads of the metatarsals sometimes described as the ball of the foot. This can include burning and shooting sensations, numbness and tingling.
The pain can be aggravated with activities including walking, the high impact from running as well as other activities including soccer, baseball, tennis, etc.
Other contributing factors can be:
a) Wearing high heel shoes, shoes with a narrow and tapered toe box.
b) As we age, the fat padding under the metatarsal heads diminishes allowing more pressure and thus inflammation.
c) Hammertoe deformities which raise the base of the proximal phalanx higher on the metatarsal head and pushing it harder into the ground.
d) Pronation, a high arched foot and an abnormal parabola of the length of the metatarsal bones.
f) Arthritic joint changes
The first step in treating metatarsalgia is to determine the cause of the pain.
If improper fitting footwear is the cause of the pain, modifications can relieve it. Shoes with a high/deep, wide/round/squared toe box relieve pressure in this area. A more supportive shoe can help to support the foot better and disperse pressure. No barefoot/slipper/stocking walking when on your feet in the house for prolonged periods.
Other modalities may include shoe padding, rocker bottom soles and orthotics.
If no other more serious issues are involved, general care including elevation and icing of the area may help.