Metatarsalgia is a term used to describe a painful foot condition in the area just before the small toes (more commonly referred to as the ball of the foot). The condition is characterised by pain and inflammation on the sole in the region of the metatarsal heads, which are the ends of the long bones in your foot. The joint capsule or tendons may also be inflamed. The pain is generally aggravated by putting pressure (as in walking) through the ball of your foot.

Symptoms may range from a full or inflamed feeling, a bruised tenderness or a burning or throbbing feeling around the bony part of the ball of the foot. Besides pain on the ball of your foot, other symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the toes, sharp pain that worsens when you flex your feet, and a feeling that you have a bruise in your foot or are walking on a stone.

Pain in the ball of the foot is often misdiagnosed and therefore inappropriate treatment is often provided. An accurate diagnosis is best achieved by a thorough hands on assessment of the painful site accompanied by in direct questioning and history taking by a Podiatrist.

The first step in the treatment of metatarsalgia is to determine the cause of your pain. Different cases may require different treatments but your podiatrist is likely to recommend a conservative approach first that may include prescription orthotics, footwear advice, stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory treatment.