One possible cause of pain in the ball of your foot is metatarsalgia, which is what we would like to discuss today. There’s a lot of conditions that can affect the ball of your foot, but metatarsalgia is a very common one here in the UK. If you suspect that your condition is different to the one described below, it might be worth getting your foot seen to by a podiatrist; they will be able to examine your foot and get you the treatment that you need.
What is metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a condition that affects the metatarsals which connect your foot to your ankle. They are quite a common source of pain which is most noticeable when you stand, walk or run. The pain that you experience with a condition like metatarsalgia can affect your daily life, but it can be improved with a few simple measures that you can do at home.
Symptoms of metatarsalgia
The pain that you experience with metatarsalgia typically comes on gradually. It might be felt in a small area of your foot or across the whole width of it. Typically, only one foot is affected, but in some cases, you may have pain in both feet.
The pain from metatarsalgia is often described as:
- A shooting pain
- An aching or burning sensation
- Numbness or tingling in the toes
- A feeling of a small stone being stuck under the foot
The causes of metatarsalgia
Some of the most common reasons for metatarsalgia are:
- High-impact sports
- Ill-fitting footwear
- An unusual bone structure in your foot
- Being overweight
- Joint and foot conditions like gout, arthritis, bursitis, bunions and Morton’s neuroma
The following treatments should improve the condition and stop it returning:
- Use an ice pack – apply it directly to the area for 20 minutes at a time a few times a day
- Rest your feet – avoid activities that make the pain worse and try low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling
- Change your shoes – try flatter shoes that have plenty of room for your feet. Make sure they are well cushioned
- Maintain a healthy weight – a healthy balanced diet and doing regular low-impact exercise can help you lose weight and can do wonders for conditions like metatarsalgia
- Take painkillers – ibuprofen and paracetamol can help with the pain and swelling
- Use shock absorbing insoles – fit these into your shoes and they will help to cushion your feet, there is a wide range available in pharmacies and online
When to go and see your doctor
Metatarsalgia will normally improve with the treatment suggestions above, however, if it doesn’t, you might need to seek medical advice about the condition.
You should seek advice from a podiatrist if:
- The pain gets worse despite the treatment
- The pain is still interfering with your daily life
- You suddenly develop severe foot pain, or you notice a change in your foot shape
If you suspect that your condition is not metatarsalgia, you can find out more about other common foot conditions on our blog; we have a huge library of articles related to foot conditions that should be of use to you.