Metatarsalgia is the wrong name for a very frequent condition in runners. It is a phrase that unfortunately will get used a lot but is a reasonably pointless name and diagnosis. The phrase is comparable to, for instance, diagnosing you have a painful knee. That painful knee could be on account of any one of a variety of different conditions. Metatarsalgia suggests symptoms in the metatarsals or forefoot, so it can always be resulting from a variety of distinct problems. That is why the term is really so useless.
The cause of the signs and symptoms may be a callus of the skin under the forefoot; it could be a pinched nerve that triggers shooting type discomfort; it may be a fat pad atrophy that produces issues with weight bearing; or it might be arthritis type symptoms within the joints in the forefoot. Each of these potential factors that cause metatarsalgia tend to be quite different to each other with various signs and symptoms and different causes which simply acts to show precisely what a awful word it is to use.
Quite possibly the most prevalent cause of pain in the ball of the foot is a condition called a plantar plate tear. This is a injury of the ligament underneath the joints in the ball of the foot that can get worse to a small tear. The discomfort is frequently on the joint on the underside of the foot and just distal to the metatarsophalangeal joint. Generally it's the second metatarsophalangeal joint, however it can affect every one of the metatarsophalangeal joints. It is more common in those that exercise more. A plantar plate tear starts as a moderate ache that is often ignored, but this will get worse unless there's a treatment solution began as it doesn't get better by itself.
Typically the treatments for a plantar plate tear is by using strapping to hold the toe in a plantarflexed or downward posture to avoid it from dorsiflexing up so the tension has a rest. A rocker sole footwear or a footwear which is less flexible will also help do this. If this improves, it can tend to take a while and perseverance is required. If this doesn't work, after that some plantar plate tears need to have a surgical treatment.