Condition spotlight

Metatarsalgia (Forefoot Pain)

Metatarsalgia is a non-specific term which refers to pain affecting the balls of the feet (metatarsal heads). The metatarsals are the long bones in the foot which connect the ankles to the toes. The metatarsal heads articulate with the phalanxes (toe bones) to form the joints which are largely responsible for propulsion during the gait cycle. Considering the high loads that these joints are expected to deal with, it’s no surprise that injuries to this area are common.

 

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metatarsalgia forefoot pain
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Frequently asked questions about Metatarsalgia (Forefoot Pain)

What are the symptoms of metatarsalgia?

You may have metatarsalgia if you experience:

  • Aching, burning on the sole of the forefoot
  • Numbness, tingling, sharp or shooting pain in the toes 
  • Symptoms which may be exacerbated by weight bearing activities and tight or unsupportive footwear
  • The sensation of walking on pebbles or stones

You may notice the development of corns and callus on the balls of the feet

What can cause metatarsalgia?

  • Poor, unsupportive footwear with lack of cushioning
  • Abnormal foot posture (high arched or flat feet)
  • Collapsed metatarsal arch
  • Lower limb biomechanical abnormalities
  • Existing toe deformities – ie. bunions, claw, hammer, mallet toes
  • Tightness in calf muscles
  • Underlying medical conditions causing changes to foot structure – eg. rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes

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