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Forefoot Pain – Metatarsalgia

What is metatarsalgia?

Long-lasting pain in the forefoot is sometimes called ‘metatarsalgia’ (pronounced met-ah-tar-sal-geeya). This means there is pain in the joints between the toes and the rest of the foot, known as the metatarsal joints.

Patients with metatarsalgia feel pain under the ‘ball’ of the foot, at the base of the problem toes. The pain is described as an aching or burning feeling that extend to the ends of the toes. Pain often worsens when standing and walking on hard surfaces.


What can I do to about my forefoot pain (metatarsalgia)?

Reduce the amount of weight on the foot:

  • maintain a healthy weight (this may involve losing weight)
  • use a cane, crutches, or a walker
  • sit as opposed to stand when performing activities

Change your footwear:

  • wear stiff-soled rocker-bottom shoes with wide toe box
  • talk to your health care team about orthotics and shoe inserts (sometimes called ‘metatarsal pads’)

Take medicine, it might help. But talk to your doctor before you start taking anything new. Some of the kinds of medicine used to treat metatarsalgia include:

  • NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), such as ibuprofen (Advil)
  • injections into the joint, such as cortisone