Lincoln Park Podiatry

Podiatrist located in Lincoln Park | Lakeview, Chicago, IL

Metatarsalgia is a condition in which pain and inflammation on the ball of the foot caused by an overuse or excess of pressure through the metatarsal heads. It is located in the area between the toes and the arch.


Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot, which feels like a deep bruise and worsens when you stand or walk, especially when barefoot or on hard surfaces
  • Feeling like you have a pebble at the base of your foot
  • An area of thick skin (callus) on the ball of the foot
  • Swelling of the joints/ knuckles near the base of the toes


Metatarsalgia can be caused by many factors, the most common including:

  • Hypermobile 1st ray
  • Intensive physical activity in sports 
  • High-heeled footwear
  • High-arched foot
  • An unusually long metatarsal bone - usually of the second toe
  • Hammertoes
  • Plantar plate tear
  • Overlapping or underlapping toe
  • Weak toe muscles
  • A tight or short Achilles tendon
  • Excess body weight/ BMI
  • Running in minimalist shoes


Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and activities and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic tests that may be carried out include:

  • X-rays: to identify any bone fractures
  • Ultrasound: to evaluate soft tissue conditions such as bursitis or rule out neuromas


Metatarsalgia can treated by methods that include:

  • Applying ice over the area of pain
  • Taking medications to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Changing footwear
  • Using pressure bandages on the foot
  • Using a metatarsal pad
  • Losing bodyweight
  • Avoiding walking barefoot 
  • Surgical rebalancing of load bearing bones