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If you’re experiencing ongoing pain in the front of the foot, this is known as Metatarsalgia. Several factors can cause metatarsalgia pain but, fortunately, there are an array of treatments, too. Speak to our expert podiatrists for advice on relieving forefoot pain and recovering from metatarsalgia.

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At the base of your toes, you’ll find the tip of the metatarsal bones. Discomfort around this area is known as metatarsalgia or forefoot pain. The term ‘metatarsalgia’ literally translates as ‘pain in the metatarsals’.

Metatarsalgia is really a description, rather than a diagnosis, as it can cover an array of sensations and may impact the bones, joints or nerves.


Metatarsalgia pain may stem from a few different causes. As such, it’s important to get a full assessment so you can find the right kind of treatment. Some common causes include:


The way your weight is distributed can cause metatarsalgia. Being overweight or overusing your feet in sport can lead to excess pressure, resulting in pain.

Bunions, corns, and arthritis of the big toe can also impact weight distribution and cause discomfort. Ill-fitting shoes are another common root of metatarsalgia as they may cause pressure on the soles of your feet.

Joint inflammation

Different types of arthritis can affect the joints around the ball of the foot, as can gout. Joint inflammation can lead to sharp, aching or burning pain.


You might experience metatarsalgia pain if you fracture one of your metatarsal bones or if you have a stress reaction, which can precede a fracture.


You may find that your metatarsalgia is caused by nerve problems. The most common issue is Morton’s Neuroma, which impacts the nerves between the third and fourth metatarsals of the foot. Over time, pressure and squeezing of the nerves can cause persistent forefoot pain.


The symptoms associated with metatarsalgia can vary depending on the cause and the part of the forefoot affected.

However, it usually involves sharp, aching, or burning pain on the ball of the foot — the part of your sole just behind the toes. You may experience pain or discomfort around your second, third, and fourth toes or it may only hurt by your big toe.

Often, metatarsalgia pain will worsen when you stand, walk, run or flex your feet and improve when you’re at rest. Many people find pain increases when barefoot, particularly if walking on a hard surface.


Because there are so many possible causes of metatarsalgia, it’s important to work out the root of the problem so you can get the right treatment. Sometimes there may be more than one issue at play.

To discover what might be causing your metatarsalgia, a foot care specialist will discuss the history of your pain and then carry out an examination. This may include taking ultrasound images or an MRI scan.


At MyFootMedic, our qualified Podiatrists specialise in foot pain assessment, diagnosis and treatment — no matter what the cause.

After an initial evaluation, we’ll advise you on the best course of action. Sometimes, treatment can be as simple as changing your shoes or inserting shock-absorbing insoles. Other times, you may require medication to help with metatarsal pain relief.

In extreme cases, some patients may need surgery to realign the metatarsal bones. However, this is only advised if other treatments haven’t worked.

Metatarsalgia tends to start mildly and worsen over time. In the early stages, you may be able to soothe the condition yourself by following the RICE principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). If these treatments don’t ease the situation, get in touch with the specialist MyFootMedic Podiatrists.


A biomechanical assessment

to look at any factors that may impact your metatarsals

Physical therapy or metatarsalgia exercises

including stretching and strengthening regimes.

Joint manipulation

to relieve joint pain.

Soft tissue mobilisation

to help heal sprains and reduce metatarsalgia swelling.

Strapping and taping

to keep your injured foot supported.

Insoles and orthotics

to offer your feet support and balance your weight distribution.

Footwear advice

you may find that a simple switch of shoe type relieves your metatarsalgia.

Advice on preventative measures

to stop the metatarsalgia returning.

Steroid injections

these can help reduce pain and swelling

Referral for a private surgical assessment

if other treatments don’t work, we can refer you to a specialist surgeon.


Metatarsalgia recovery time can vary, depending on the cause of the problem. With treatment, you’ll generally see an improvement within a few weeks, providing you follow the guidelines set out by your podiatrist.

If metatarsalgia is causing you discomfort and affecting your daily activities, it’s best to address the underlying issue as soon as possible.