Symptoms of metatarsalgia may include:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes
  • Pain in the area around your second, third or fourth toes — or, only near your big toe
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand, walk or run and improves when you rest
  • Sharp or shooting pain in your toes
  • Numbness or tingling in your toes
  • Pain that worsens when you flex your feet
  • A feeling in your feet as if you're walking with a pebble in your shoe
  • Increased pain when you're walking barefoot, especially on a hard surface

Sometimes these symptoms develop suddenly — especially if you've recently increased your usual amount of running, jumping or other high-impact exercise — but problems usually develop over time.

When to see a doctor

Not all foot problems need medical care. Sometimes your feet simply ache after a long day of standing or a punishing workout. But it's best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts more than a few days. Talk to your doctor if you experience a burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn't improve after changing your shoes and modifying your activities.

Jan. 25, 2011