Metatarsalgia is the name given to pain in the front part of your foot under the heads of your metatarsal bones – the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different conditions affecting the foot. You may need some investigations to find the cause of your metatarsalgia. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Simple measures such as changes to your footwear, rest and losing weight can sometimes help.
Some anatomy of your foot
Your feet have to bear the weight of your whole body. There are many bones in each foot. They can briefly be divided into the tarsal bones, the metatarsal bones and the phalanges. The tarsal bones are the larger bones that form the back section of your foot, with the heel bone (calcaneum) being the largest. There are five metatarsal bones and these are given names from the first to the fifth. The first metatarsal bone is the largest and is the bone that joins to your big toe. Each toe has three phalanges, except the big toe which only has two. This means that there are three joints in the toes (two joints in the big toe).
There are also many muscles, tendons and ligaments within your foot. The bones, ligaments and tendons within your foot form the foot arches. These arches are called the longitudinal and transverse arches. It is your foot arches that allow your foot to hold up the weight of your body. Nerves also provide sensation to the skin of your foot.
What is metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a general name given to pain in the front part of your foot under the heads of your metatarsal bones. This is the area on the sole of your foot, just before your toes. It is sometimes called the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different conditions affecting the foot. It is really a symptom of other problems rather than a specific disease itself.