Metatarsalgia is a popular term that doesn't mean a lot. The metatarsals include the long bones behind the toes in the feet and the suffix -algia indicates pain, so metatarsalgia simply means pain in the metatarsals region. That is definitely quite useless as a medical diagnosis as the pain can be because of, literally, 100’s of different things. To use the word metatarsalgia is similar to using the phrase ‘sore knee’. It is not a diagnosis and is only a non-specific phrase for symptoms in the ball of the foot. This will be significant as having the diagnosis correct is really necessary and the initial step to get the therapy right. There's no treatment for metatarsalgia. There is treatment for the many different disorders which cause pain about the metatarsals.
By far the most common cause for pain in this area is a ailment known as a plantar plate tear. The plantar plate is a strong ligament underneath the joints in the ball of the feet that give stableness to the joint and guard it. When there is too much a level of activity and the toes get retracted or dorsiflexed too much, then that ligament might get strained causing is what is generally known as plantar plate dysfunction. If that load persists then a little tear could happen in the ligament. Another cause for symptoms is this place might be what is known as sesamoiditis that is some soreness of the tissues surrounding the small sesamoid bones at the bottom of the big toe. Sesamoiditis can often be because of excessive load on those sesamoid bones, inducing the irritation. Simply from these two illustrations it should be clear that they're two completely different conditions that could get lumped under this worthless phrase, metatarsalgia. Treatments of these two problems are completely different, therefore it really should be obvious why that word should no longer be made use of.