What is Metatarsalgia (Forefoot pain)?

Metatarsalgia is a generic and broad term to describe pain in and around the foot, at the area of the metatarsals and forefoot region. Hence, pain from metatarsalgia can be caused by several conditions, and therefore can have varied treatment approaches.

Anyone can suffer from metatarsalgia. However, individuals whose activities increase forefoot pressures may be more predisposed to metatarsalgia – such as runners, people who participate in high impact sports, including obesity, pregnancy or even occupational and lifestyle factors. Besides direct trauma and injury to the foot, other factors such as poor fitting footwear, or even systemic illness that predisposes our plantar fat pad to atrophy, can also contribute to the development of metatarsalgia.

What can I experience?

Because the cause of metatarsalgia is varied, it potentially presents in more ways than one. Typically, the main symptom is pain at the metatarsal area, closer to the ball of the foot. At times, individuals may feel like there is a stone or pebble at the ball of the foot. This could be either sharp, aching, or even burning accompanied with numbness and tingling in the toes. Generally, pain is worsened with increased weightbearing, or walking barefooted on hard surfaces.

Even though metatarsalgia causes pain at the ball of the foot and forefoot region, individuals may find that there is a change in the way that they walk and function, causing pain in other parts of the lower limb and the toes in the form of compensation.

How can we help you?

Generally, metatarsalgia can be treated conservatively. Successful management of metatarsalgia requires the identification, elimination, or mitigation of any underlying causes of the pain. Our Podiatrist will be able to perform a thorough biomechanics and musculoskeletal assessment of your foot, gait analysis, as well as a detailed history of your pain to get to the root of the problem.

Depending on the cause of pain, treatment options may include offloading painful areas with clinical paddings or improving the function of your foot joints using custom orthotic devices. Your Podiatrist will also be able to advise and educate you on the most appropriate footwear to help with your condition.