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Metatarsalgia, also known as a “stone bruise” is a common pain or inflammation that occurs when the muscle is overused. It is common in athletes who are involved in a lot of running or jumping, as well as athletes who participate in soccer, football, baseball and other high-impact sports.

The term metatarsalgia refers to pain or inflammation in the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia can be thought of as a symptom of other issues or conditions, rather than a specific disease.


Metatarsalgia is caused by abnormal weight distribution. When two bones in the foot are pressed together, a tiny nerve is caught between them causing pain. The pain generally increases when more weight is put on the foot.

The following can increase the chance of metatarsalgia:

  • High Impact Exercise - High impact sports or running can increase the risk of metatarsalgia.
  • Improper Footwear - Tight footwear adds pressure to the ball of the foot.
  • Being Overweight - Being overweight can put excess strain on the foot.
  • A High Arch - A high arch in the foot or a second toe longer than the big toe can increase pressure.
  • Bunions - Bunions weaken the big toe, increasing the amount of stress that is placed on the ball of the foot.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis - Arthritis can cause metatarsalgia.
  • Morton’s Neuroma - Morton’s neuroma is a growth of fibrous tissue of nerves located between the metatarsal heads, this can cause further stress to the metatarsals.
  • Diabetes - Diabetes can affect the nerves of the foot, causing metatarsalgia.


The symptoms vary between patients. While some describe the pain as a shooting pain, others describe it as numbness.

Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Burning pain in the foot
  • Sharp ache
  • Pain in the ball of the foot - just behind the toes
  • Pain that increases when walking
  • Shooting pain in toes


Depending on the severity of the case, the treatment options can vary as well. For cases that are less severe, ice and some rest will help to heal it up. However, for those who have suffered before with metatarsalgia, other treatments such as physical therapy, may be recommended.

During the healing period, it is generally recommended that you don’t put stress on the foot, and that you avoid physical activities that require you to put added weight on it.

If your condition is not improving, be sure to contact a podiatric specialist for available treatment options.