Metatarsalgia is a popular phrase that does not mean a lot. The metatarsals include the long bones behind the toes in the feet and the suffix -algia implies pain, so metatarsalgia just means pain in the metatarsals region. This really is really meaningless as a diagnosis because pain may be caused by, literally, 100’s of various things. To make use of the term metatarsalgia is similar to using the term ‘sore knee’. It isn't a diagnosis and is merely a non-specific term for symptoms in the ball of the foot. This is very important as getting the diagnosis right is absolutely important and the initial step to get the therapy right. There's no treatment for metatarsalgia. There's treatment for the various things that cause pain around the metatarsals.
By far the most common cause for pain in this region is a ailment termed as a plantar plate tear. The plantar plate is a strong ligament beneath the joints in the ball of the feet that give stability to the joint and secure it. When there is too high a amount of exercise and the toes get retracted or dorsiflexed too much, then that ligament will get stretched producing is what is often called plantar plate dysfunction . If that force persists then a small tear may develop in the ligament. Another reason for symptoms is this area could be what is known as sesamoiditis which is some soreness of the tissue around the small sesamoid bones at the base of the great toe. This is usually because of excessive force on those bones, inducing the inflammation. Merely from these two illustrations it should be obvious that they're two totally different issues that may get lumped under this meaningless term, metatarsalgia. The therapy of these two problems are completely different, so it should be no surprise that that phrase should really not be used.