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Metatarsalgia (say "met-uh-tar-SAL-jee-uh") is pain in the ball of the foot. It sometimes spreads to the toes. The ball of the foot is the bottom of the foot, where the toes join the foot.
While walking might be very painful, the pain is usually not a sign of a serious or permanent problem. But any pain can affect your life, so it is important that you treat it.
Pain in this area can be caused by many things. For example, you may have this pain if you stand or walk a lot or wear tight shoes or high heels.
Your pain might be caused by inflammation of a joint (capsulitis). It is most common in the joint at the base of the second toe, near the ball of the foot. Capsulitis happens when ligaments that go around the joint become inflamed. The joint may be swollen. It may feel like there is a small rock under it.
You may have had an X-ray if your doctor wanted to make sure a more serious problem is not causing your pain.
Treatment may consist of home care, such as rest, wearing different shoes, and taking over-the-counter pain medicines. It can take months for the pain to go away.
If the ligaments around a joint are torn, or if a toe has started to slant toward the toe next to it, you may need surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Gavin W.G. Chalmers DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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