WHAT IS IT?
Metatarsalgia is characterized by pain and swelling on the ball of the foot, which has a greater prevalence in older individuals. This injury can be caused from repetitive high-pressure loading under the metatarsal heads, changing biomechanics while running to a forefoot strike pattern, fat pad atrophy, or wearing ill-fitting shoes (i.e. high heels).
This injury commonly presents itself in one or more metatarsal heads. The pain is most severe during the propulsion phase of running or jumping.
Stretching of the Achilles tendon has been shown to decrease forefoot loading, as has improving the strength of intrinsic foot muscles. Metatarsal pads, orthotics, shock absorbing insoles, and properly fitting shoes have also been shown to improve the pressure distibution through the metatarsal heads.
Health content provided by Dr. Reed Ferber and the Running Injury Clinic