(See also Overview of Foot Problems.)
Freiberg disease is a common cause of pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia). The cause is injury to the bone. This disorder usually occurs in girls who are going through puberty and who are growing rapidly or in people in whom the bone connected to the base of the big toe (the first metatarsal bone) is short or the second metatarsal bone is long. In both cases, the second metatarsal head can be subjected to repeated stresses such as during dancing, jogging, or running.
To relieve painful flare-ups, doctors may inject corticosteroids and tell people to rest and keep weight off their foot.
Low-heeled shoes, possibly those that have thicker soles than normal and rounded heels (called rocker sole modifications), or inserts or other devices placed in the shoe that change the position or range of movement of the foot to relieve pressure on the affected joints or painful areas (orthoses) are helpful.
Rarely, doctors may surgically remove the second metatarsal bone to relieve pain that is difficult to manage.