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Metatarsalgia

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What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a Latin name which literally means “pain of the metatarsals”.

The metatarsals are the long bones of the feet which end in the balls of the feet.

Metatarsalgia is often used as a “diagnosis” for people suffering with pain in the balls of the feet, however this is really an umbrella term which includes lots of conditions such as:

Capsulitis

Neuroma/Neuritis/Bursitis

Stress Fracture

Freiberg’s

Technically, even a corn, callus or verruca under the ball of the foot can be related to metatarsalgia if they cause you foot pain in this area.

How can I help myself?

Improving your footwear, wearing protective padding or cushioning insoles in your shoes, or changing your activities may be helpful.

It is hard to be more specific because there are lots of potential causes of metatarsalgia.

When to see a Podiatrist?

Whilst metatarsalgia it is a widely accepted term, we like to try and be more specific in podiatry, so if someone has metatarsal pain, we try and find out the specific reason for this so that we can help to treat it.

This would involve an assessment, palpation of the area and ruling out common problems. X-rays, Ultrasound Scans or MRI Scans are often sometimes called for.

There is not always a specific diagnosis as the cause of the metatarsalgia is overload or stress due to footwear, activities you are doing, or your bodyweight.

The mechanics of your feet also play a big part. One example is a situation called “transfer metatarsalgia” where dysfunction of problems with the big toe joint such as a bunion or osteoarthritis, leads to more pressure being transferred through the smaller metatarsals and bones of the forefeet, leading to overload and pain.

A podiatrist will be able to discuss these things in more detail and help you to try and manage your pain with activity modification, exercises or perhaps foot orthoses or insoles. 

If you book an appointment, it is a good idea to take the footwear you we are on a daily basis and any sports or exercises specific footwear that you use.

Metatarsalgia