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Metatarsalgia – What Causes it and How Can it Be Treated?

Metatarsalgia – Causes and treatment options

Metatarsalgia can be described as a severe pain or cramp arising within the anterior portion of the metatarsus. Thus, pain occurs under your metatarsal heads, or to simplify, in your forefoot region. At times it can feel as if there is a pebble lodged within your shoe or alternatively a bruised bone in the ball of your foot. So what are the causes of Metatarsalgia and how may it be treated?


The causes of Metatarsalgia a painful malady are many. Women suffer more frequently than men, due to their high-heeled narrow shoes. Wearing high heels puts added pressure on the metatarsal heads. plus, if the shoes are too narrow, this can put pressure on the anterior metatarsal arch. this arch normally flexes up and down as you walk. however if the shoes you are wearing are too tight and the ends of the arch are made rigid and thus no longer flexible, the result may be that one or more of the metatarsals drops out of alignment. when this happens, the bones are brought closer to the surface and can in turn become bruised, callused and inflamed.

If you have high arched feet, thin feet without much fat padding and prominent bones, or if you put lots of mileage on your feet as a result of sporting activities, you may become susceptible to Metatarsalgia. In fact anything that causes you to come down hard on your metatarsals can lead to pain within this area.


Since one or more of the metatarsal heads is depressed, you need to elevate it. For home treatment try using a 6cm thick piece of felt or rubber, cut it into a 5-7cm long strip by approximately 5cm wide( depending on the size of your foot) and tape it behind your metatarsal heads.. A sporting goods store or better quality drugstore will stock commercial metatarsal pads or bars. Often a full length arch support with metatarsal pads built in is an available option. These often prove helpful.

Foot exercises such as picking up towels, marbles, or pencils with your toes can strengthen the anterior metatarsal arch, as well as stretch and relax your feet.

Usually Metatarsalgia will respond to a change in shoe environment or appropriate padding. If still experiencing pain and you visit a foot specialist, a recommendation may be made for a custom orthotic to redistribute the weight on your foot. Steroid Injections may be used to help reduce any inflammation and finally surgery as a last resort are other treatment options

Copyright (c) 2010 Eamon Greville

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