Metatarsalgia is a widely used phrase that does not mean much. The metatarsals include the long bones behind the toes in the feet and the suffix -algia signifies pain, so metatarsalgia simply means pain in the metatarsals region. This really is somewhat useless as a diagnosis as the pain will be because of, practically, 100’s of various things. To use the term metatarsalgia is like using the expression ‘sore knee’. It's not a diagnosis and is only a non-specific term for pain in the ball of the foot. This will be significant as getting the diagnosis correct is absolutely important and the first step in getting the treatment correct. There is no treatment for metatarsalgia. There's treatment for the many different things that cause pain in the region of the metatarsals.
Quite possibly the most common cause for symptoms in this area is a ailment termed as a plantar plate tear. The plantar plate is a strong ligament underneath the joints in the ball of the foot that give stableness to the joint and protect it. When there is too much a level of activity and the toes get retracted or dorsiflexed too much, then that ligament could get stretched resulting is what is generally known as plantar plate dysfunction. If that load carries on then a small tear could develop in the ligament. Another cause for pain is this location could be what is known as sesamoiditis that is some soreness of the tissue all around the small sesamoid bones at the bottom of the great toe. Sesamoiditis can often be due to an excessive amount of pressure on those sesamoid bones, inducing the irritation. Simply from these two causes of metatarsalgia it ought to be clear that they're two completely different conditions that can get lumped under this pointless word, metatarsalgia. Treatments of these two problems are completely different, so it really should be no surprise that that name really should no longer be made use of.