What is metatarsalgia in the foot?

Metatarsalgia is a widely used word that doesn't mean much. The metatarsals are the long bones behind the toes in the foot and the suffix -algia signifies pain, so metatarsalgia simply means pain in the metatarsals area. That's pretty meaningless as a medical diagnosis because the pain will be due to, literally, 100’s of various things. To make use of the word metatarsalgia is like using the term ‘sore knee’. This isn't a diagnosis and is only a non-specific word for pain in the ball of the foot. This will be significant as getting the diagnosis correct is really significant and the initial step to get the treatment right. There isn't a treatment for metatarsalgia. There is treatment for the many different things that cause pain in the region of the metatarsals.

Just about the most prevalent cause for pain in this area is a ailment termed as a plantar plate tear. The plantar plate is a strong ligament plantar to joints in the ball of the foot that give stableness to the joint and secure it. When there is too much a level of activity and the toes get pulled back or dorsiflexed too much, then that ligament will get strained causing is what is generally known as plantar plate dysfunction. If that force remains then a small tear might happen in the ligament. Another cause for pain is this area may be what is known as sesamoiditis which is some irritation of the tissues surrounding the small sesamoid bones at the bottom of the great toe. Sesamoiditis is frequently due to excessive force on those bones, causing the irritation. Merely from these two illustrations it should be obvious that they are two completely different issues that may get lumped under this meaningless word, metatarsalgia. The treatment of these two problems are completely different, therefore it ought to be obvious why that word really should not be used.