metatarsalgiaPain 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

a high arched foot can be a risk factor for metatarsalgiaCauses

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
  • Overpronation and flat feet
  • 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:

At the office:

  • Initially your podiatrist will tape the ball of your foot to offload weight to that area.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or a cortisone injection.
  • MLS laser therapy to help decrease pain and inflammation.
  • 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.
  • Metatarsal pad - this is also used to offload weight to the affected joint or joints. It can be used alone or incorporated into your orthotics.

At home:

  • 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.

To learn about other causes of ball of foot pain, visit this webpage.

Need Treatment for Metatarsalgia in Seattle, Washington? Request an Appointment Now

Needing treatment for metatarsalgia or other painful foot conditions. Complete the contact form on this page or call our office at 206-368-7000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Berg.

Most new patients are seen within 1-2 week's time. During your initial visit, Dr. Berg will spend up to 30 minutes getting to know you, your podiatry complaints, and your goals so that he can recommend the treatment best meets your needs. Don’t wait—contact us today.

Dr. Rion Berg
Connect with me
A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.