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Pain in your toes

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Metatarsalgia is a medical term for sore toes, specifically as they end near the ball of your foot.

Marshfield Clinic Orthopedic S​​urgeons diagnose the problem and suggest the best treatment.​

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of your foot. It is often caused by wearing shoes with thin soles and high heels. This puts extra pressure on the bones in the ball of the foot. Standing or walking on a hard surface for long periods also puts added pressure on the bones, causing pain. The pain can occur under any of the five metatarsal bones, although it's most common in the second. Bent or twisted toes and bunions can make the problem worse. So can being overweight. Sometimes high arches or arthritis can also cause metatarsalgia.

Image showing the metatarsal bone and a callus that formed at the end of the metatarsal bone.

Inside the ball of your foot

The long bones in the middle of your foot are called the metatarsal bones. Each metatarsal bone ends in the ball of the foot. When you walk, these bones bear the weight of your body as your foot pushes off the ground. If there is more pressure on the end of one bone, it presses on the skin beneath it. This causes pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia). A callus (a hard growth of skin) may also form on the ball of the foot.

Woman rubbing the ball of her foot.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of the foot. It may feel as if you have a stone in your shoe. The ball of the foot may also become red and inflamed, and a callus may form under the end of the metatarsal bone.

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If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

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How Much Do You Know About Foot Health?

Most people would agree that it's no small problem when their feet ache. Yet few other parts of the body are more neglected in terms of basic personal care. And major foot problems and chronic pain often go ignored. Learning about foot care can help you recognize when to see a healthcare provider for treatment.

1. You should inspect your feet regularly.
2. Trim your toenails to follow the curve of your toe.
3. For people who don't have circulation problems, it's safe to use over-the-counter remedies for foot ailments such as corns or warts.
4. Having a pedicure can treat foot problems.
5. You shouldn't wear the same pair of shoes for two or more days in a row.
6. High heels frequently cause foot problems in women.
7. Years of wearing narrow shoes that squeeze the toes together can cause bunions.