I'm going to talk to you today about metatarsalgia. That word is made up of two parts. The first is metatarsals. In the foot we have these long bones that go from the middle of the foot all the way to the front. And they end at a part that is commonly referred to as the ball of the foot. Algia is pain. You put the two together, and it's pain in the ball of your foot.

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Now there are a lot of causes for pain in the ball of the foot. But some of the basic ones are:

  • arthritis
  • foot deformities
  • poor foot mechanics and structure
  • injuries.

There are several kinds of arthritis; both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are inflammatory conditions. Because the ball of the foot bears a lot of weight, it's common to see arthritis express itself in that area of the foot. When generalized arthritis is involved, you tend to get pain all across the ball of the foot, and sometimes people think of metatarsalgia as that inclusive, and it is.

And other times we have more localized causes for the problem. I said it's structural and mechanical. Well what does that mean? Well if you have a high-arched foot, look at what happens to these long bones when I move the model. Look at the angle they make to the ground. I know I've exaggerated here, but that's going to stress the ball of the foot quite a bit. Sometimes it can be all across, but not uncommonly it can be more one bone than another. And yet it still creates pain in the ball of the foot.

The third type of cause is mechanical and structural. When our feet collapse too much, or pronate and roll in too much, it causes instability in the front, clawing of the toes, and the more you claw the toes, the more that pressure develops on the bottom.

So these are a few different causes that put you at risk for developing pain in the ball of your foot. If you're beginning to have pain there and haven't solved it with pads or changing your shoes, or over the counter foot supports, come in and let's diagnose your foot problem. We'll find out what the source is, and figure out the best treatment plan for you. Call us at 206-368-7000 to make an appointment or request one online.

To learn more about treatment for metatarsalgia visit us here!


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