Symptoms of metatarsalgia

Overview

In metatarsalgia (met-uh-tahr-SAL-juh) the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed.You may experience metatarsalgia if you participate in activities that involve running and jumping. Or, you may develop metatarsalgia by wearing ill-fitting shoes. There are other causes as well. Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can sideline you. Fortunately, at-home treatments, such as ice and rest, often can relieve metatarsalgia symptoms. Proper footwear with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports may be all you need to prevent or minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.

Symptoms

Symptoms of metatarsalgia may include:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes
  • Pain that worsens when you stand, run, flex your feet or walk — especially barefoot on a hard surface — and improves when you rest
  • Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
  • A feeling of having a pebble in your shoe

Sometimes symptoms develop suddenly — especially if you’ve recently increased the time or intensity of your high-impact exercise, such as running — but problems usually develop over time.

Treatment

Not all foot problems need medical care. Sometimes your feet simply ache after a long day of standing or a punishing workout. But it’s best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts more than a few days. Talk to your doctor if you experience a burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn’t improve after changing your shoes and modifying your activities.