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Foot pain in the "ball of your foot," that area between your arch and the toes, is generally called Metatarsalgia (met'-a-tar-sal'-gee-a). The pain usually centers on one or more of the five bones (metatarsals) in this mid-portion of the foot. Sometimes, Metatarsalgia is caused by a callus that forms on the bottom of your foot. A callus is a build-up of skin that forms in response to excessive pressure over the bone. Normally, a callus is not painful, but the build-up of skin can increase the pressure and eventually make walking difficult.

Shoe Recommendations
In this instance it is important to support the arch. Even more important than padding the problem area. Additional forefoot cushioning is also helpful.

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Metatarsalgia is a condition that results in pain in the ball of the foot. Two main causes that result in this condition are wearing ill-fitting shoes and a large amount of running and jumping during physical activity. Other less common causes that result in metatarsalgia are certain foot shapes, hammer toe, bunions, excess weight, stress fractures, and Morton's neuroma.

Symptoms that are attributed to Metatarsalgia are: Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of the foot; Pain in the area around your second, third or fourth toes; Pain centralized around only the big toe; Pain that intensifies when a person stands, walks or runs and improves when resting; Sharp or shooting pain in the toes; Numbness or tingling in the toes; Pain that worsens when feet are flexed and Increased pain when walking barefoot. Symptoms typically develop slowly over a period of time, but active people who have recently increased the amount of running and jumping in their routines can develop symptoms suddenly. If feet ache for more than a few days after modifying activities and ensuring that shoes fit properly then a doctor should be consulted.

People who are at high risk for developing metatarsalgia are those that participate in high impact sports, wear high heels or shoes that do not fit properly, are overweight, and have other preexisting foot problems. If metatarsalgia is left untreated it may result in pain in other parts of the same or opposite foot or pain elsewhere in the body including lower back pain and hip pain, which may result from a limp or altered gait that is associated with this ailment.

Metatarsalgia is treated by wearing proper fitting shoes. One of the New Balance walking shoes we recommend is the New Balance 927 Motion Control and the New Balance running shoes we recommend is the New Balance 1123 Motion Control. Also, icing the painful area, taking an over the counter pain reliever, wearing shock absorbing insoles, using metatarsal pads and prescription made arch supports can help treat metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia is diagnosed by a doctor examination. This examination will include questions regarding the patient's activity level and lifestyle. To obtain a definitive diagnosis a doctor may take an x-ray to rule out stress fractures and other foot issues.