What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain) is a condition that frequently affects the bones and joints in the sole of your foot. This condition is usually associated with pain on the ball of the foot (metatarsal), particularly affecting the three middle toes.

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Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain in the forefoot or ball of the foot. Patients may experience a burning, aching, numbing, tingling, or sharp sensation. This pain can be unbearable as every step you take impacts the forefoot. Such symptoms indicate overuse and stress to this area of the foot.

Causes and Risk Factors

Individuals who engage in frequent high-impact activities, such as running and jumping, face an elevated risk of developing metatarsalgia. Additional contributing factors include prolonged use of ill-fitting footwear or high heels. Metatarsalgia can result from overuse injuries, diseases, or degeneration. Common causes of forefoot pain encompass conditions like bunions, hallux limitus or hallux rigidus, osteoarthritis, capsulitis or bursitis, neuroma, fractures, osteonecrosis (Freiberg's disease), plantar plate strain, and tendon strain, tear, or rupture.

Impact and Complications

Without proper management, metatarsalgia can lead to the spread of pain to other foot areas and even to the hip, knee, and ankles. In response to this pain, individuals may adjust their walking patterns, leading to limping or alterations in their gait. Beyond hindering daily activities, unaddressed metatarsalgia may progress into severe and potentially irreversible conditions, including joint and toe deformities.

Types of Approaches

To prevent the progression of metatarsalgia into more serious biomechanical deformities, you should consult a healthcare professional promptly. At East Coast Podiatry, our podiatrists conduct a thorough assessment to identify the root cause. Following the assessment, a comprehensive discussion on the appropriate course of action is initiated to address and prevent complications such as avascular necrosis and loss of flexibility. Our podiatric care and interventions include:

  • Biomechanical and musculoskeletal assessment
  • Diagnostic ultrasound scan for a visual confirmation of the diagnosis; X-ray and MRI are rarely required
  • Offloading of the area with casts, splints or custom orthotics
  • Depending on the cause of metatarsalgia, podiatric interventions can involve the use of advanced technologies, such as ESWT to reduce stiffness and regenerate bone, and EMTT for nerve regeneration and stimulation
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Common Symptoms

Aching across the forefoot
Pain on the sole of the foot especially on the ball of the foot nearer to the toes
Pain increased when walking barefoot or on hard surfaces
Burning sensations

How It Looks Like

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Related Conditions


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Have a question?

I fractured my fifth metatarsal from falling off a chair!! I went to see an orthopaedic in Malaysia who told me to just leave it! 😳 I had a trip to SG planned and asked if I could go and he told me I could. I was in so much pain, at day 1 and 2 that my uncle brought me to this clinic!!! Emily looked at my X-rays and gave me an air boot and used a ultrasound to help with the pain. It's been two months and she just took another x ray and I'm healed! I'm really really grateful for her helping me!!!

Stephanie Lai

Our Podiatry Care Strategy

100% non-invasive methods to improve your ankle in 4-8 weeks

An ankle specialist, such as a podiatrist, will be able to perform a thorough foot assessment using diagnostic tools, such as a musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound to determine the source of your ankle pain. If surgery is required, your podiatrist will refer you to a trusted foot and ankle doctor for surgical solutions.

A thorough assessment of your ankle

Immobilising the area with splints

Utilising technological therapies

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Georgina Tay
Senior Podiatrist & Head of Department

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