Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury, characterized by pain and inflammation in the forefoot.


Metatarsalgia can be caused by:

  • High activity level
  • Tight toe extensors or Achilles tendon
  • Weak toe flexors (muscles)
  • Excessive pronation (side-to-side movement of the foot when walking or running)
  • Anatomical conditions, including a high arch, hypermobile first ray, prominent metatarsal heads, hammertoe or Morton toe

Most cases of metatarsalgia are marked by gradual pain, over the course of several months, at the end of one or more of the metatarsal bones.


Treatment for metatarsalgia includes:

  • Icing regularly
  • Use of a pressure bandage
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Decreased weight bearing on that foot
  • Metatarsal pads in the shoe
  • Physical therapy to restore normal range of motion, strength and function
  • Careful stretching/strengthening exercises and gradual return to higher-level activity

If treatment fails to provide relief, surgery may be required.