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Metatarsalgia or ball of foot pain is defined as pain and inflammation in the padding directly beneath the toes. It is the site where most pressure is placed when moving and standing.

The discomfort is typically present in the metatarsal heads. There is also shooting pain, numbness and discomfort when the toes are flexed. The pain might subside if off the feet and return if normal activities are resumed.

What are the causes?

An individual can develop metatarsalgia due to various factors. The root cause must be determined so that appropriate treatment can be started.

Some of the usual causes include:

Apply an ice pack at 20-minute intervals followed by 20-minutes off. The cold can lessen the swelling and inflammation.
  • Stress fractures
  • Engaging in rigorous physical activity
  • Hammer toe and bunions
  • Using high heels or shoes that are too small
  • Having a high arch or second toe that is longer than the big toe
  • Overweight
  • Metatarsal joint pain or arthritis

Management of metatarsalgia

There are various home remedies for metatarsalgia. In case the symptoms are not caused by a big health issue, some of these remedies can be used:

  • Adequate rest – the foot must be allowed to rest after activity. Apply an ice pack at 20-minute intervals followed by 20-minutes off. The cold can lessen the swelling and inflammation.
  • Comfortable footwear – among those who wear high heels, the doctor will suggest changing footwear. It is vital to use shoes that properly fit. Tight shoes can result to misalignment of the foot while walking and standing.
  • Exercise – performing targeted stretching can lessen the pain and improve strength and flexibility.
  • Orthotic inserts – these inserts can realign the foot and provide additional cushioning.
  • Controlling the body weight – excess body weight can place pressure on the ball of the foot. It is suggested to cut down on weight to lessen the strain.
  • Pain medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might be suggested by the doctor. In severe cases of metatarsalgia, the doctor might prescribe steroid shots.


Most cases of metatarsalgia settle without treatment. Using comfortable shoes and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent foot pain. If brought about by physical exercise, the foot must be allowed to rest until the discomfort subsides.

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