Pain in the area between the arch and toes, or ball of the foot, is called metatarsalgia.


Symptoms of metatarsalgia can vary and can consist of one or more of the following and can come on slowly or suddenly.

  • Pain in ball of foot during weightbearing exercises such as walking, running, or standing. It typically centers on one or more of the five bones (metatarsals) in the mid-portion of the foot.
  • Sharp or shooting pain and pain when toes are flexed
  • Tingling or numbness of the toes
  • Callus formation under the affected joint
  • Can feel like walking over pebbles
  • Adjusting walk to avoid putting pressure on the ball of the foot


Metatarsalgia develops when something changes the foot biomechanics causing more pressure on the ball of the foot. The following can put a person at high risk for this condition.

  • Certain foot types - a high-arched foot or a foot with very long metatarsal bone
  • Certain foot conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, stress fractures, and arthritis.
  • High impact sports - such as running and jumping
  • Improper shoes - shoes with a pointy, tight toe box, high heels (put a lot of pressure of the ball of the foot), rigid-soled work boot, and flip flops (lack of shock absorption).
  • Foot injury - from sports, a car accident, or repeated stress
  • Constant work on hard surfaces (cement or tile floors)
  • Being overweight (increased pressure on the ball of foot)


Treatments can include one or more of the following:

  • Wear proper footwear 
    • Shoes should have a wide toe box so that your toes have wiggle room.
    • Shoes need to be supportive. Watch our video "How to Test Any Shoe for Stability" before you go shopping.
    • If you're an athlete be sure to purchase new shoes every 500 miles. Also, be sure to purchase shoes for the particularly activity you engage in.
    • Wear shoes that have heels no higher than one inch.
    • In the summer instead of flip flops, wear sandals that have straps so that you aren't using your toes to hold onto the sandal.
  • Lose weight to lighten the pressure on your foot.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or a cortisone injection
  • Orthotics - orthotics can help align your foot properly if you have faulty foot mechanics, preventing overpronation and relieving the pressure from the ball of your foot.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.