Pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, metatarsalgia, is a common symptom of several foot conditions. Injuries to the ball of the foot occur frequently in athletes who perform activities that put high-impact stress on the forefront of the foot. Diets that cause bone loss, hammertoe, high arches, or a tight Achilles tendon may contribute to metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia has no symptoms other than inflammation and pain in the forefront of the foot.
Since this symptom may be associated with a myriad of foot conditions, it may be best to visit a doctor who can determine what the underlying condition that is causing the pain. Treatments that help include resting the foot and icing it to reduce inflammation. To manage pain, over the counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen will help but will not provide a lasting solution. Orthotic devices, such as metatarsal pads, will help with pain and take pressure off the forefoot when walking. Do not perform activities that cause pain. When pain is no longer present, physical therapy exercises can help to rehabilitate the foot. In extreme cases, the metatarsal bones require realignment that only surgery can provide. To prevent this condition from returning it is important to wear shock absorbent footwear and eat a well-rounded diet