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Metatarsalgia, is it just pain in the ball of the foot?

Metatarsalgia is a general term used to describe a painful foot condition in the metatarsal area of the foot (the area just before the toes, most commonly known as the ball-of-the-foot). This is a common foot disorder that can affect the bones and joints at the ball-of-the-foot. Metatarsalgia is quite often located under the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metatarsal heads, or more isolated at the first metatarsal head (near the big toe).

Who can suffer from Metatarsalgia?

Anyone can get Metatarsalgia, although runners and participants in high impact sports can suffer from the condition more frequently than others who live a sedentary lifestyle. People with high arches can also suffer from Metatarsalgia more than others. The high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals. People with a second toe longer than their big toe may also suffer from the complaint. People with foot deformities such as hammertoes and bunions may also experience more Metatarsalgia. Wearing High Hell’s and ill-fitting shoes can also bring on Metatarsalgia.


  • Rest.

Avoid high impact sports and exercise. Elevate your foot after standing or walking. You might need to avoid your favorite sport for a while, but you can stay active with low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling.

  • Ice the affected area.

Apply ice packs to the affected area for about 20 minutes at a time several times a day. To protect your skin, wrap the ice packs in a thin tea towel or old t shirt

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Always see your GP or Podiatrist but ibuprofen or aspirin can reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Wear proper shoes.

Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose, and ladies limit your wearing of high heels. Wear shoes appropriate to the sports you play.

  • Use metatarsal pads.

Off-the-shelf pads can be effective if placed in your shoes just ahead of the metatarsal bone to help deflect stress from the painful area.

  • Consider arch supports/orthotics.

If insoles don’t help, your doctor might recommend arch supports to minimize stress on the metatarsal bones and improve foot function. At Canberra Podiatry we stock a large selection of orthotic inserts and can also custom make them in our lab.

So if you suffer from Metatarsalgia, call Canberra Podiatry today on 6281 1200 for an appointment, we’ve been looking after Canberra’s foot health since 1997.