Metatarsalgia Is Characterized By Pain In The Forefoot

How Chiropractors Treat  Metatarsalgia?

MetatarsalgiaMetatarsalgia is a general term used to denote a painful foot condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (the area just before the toes, more commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot). It is a common overuse injury. The first step in treating metatarsalgia is to determine the cause of the pain. This is also more common in older people and people with diabetes.

Metatarsalgia isn’t confined to one particular gender or age group, although it is women who wear high heels, and those types of shoes contribute significantly to the problem. The primary symptom of metatarsalgia is the pain at the end of one or more of the metatarsal bones. Metatarsalgia is a common overuse injury described as pain in the forefoot that is associated with increased stress over the metatarsal head region. The good news is that while painful and annoying, metatarsalgia is generally treatable with conservative measures, particularly once the origin of the problem is identified.

Metatarsalgia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Metatarsalgia, also known as stone bruise, is a type of pain and inflammation that occurs in a part of the foot known as the metatarsal (ball of foot). It often occurs in the metatarsal heads – where the three middle toes meet the ball of the foot. It is a common problem which can affect the bones and joints of the metatarsals.

Most commonly, the first metatarsal head is affected – the ball of the foot just behind the big toe.

A lot of physically active people suffer from this condition as it can be caused by high impact of the foot which is a product of running, jumping etc. Sometimes, the condition can be caused by badly-fitting footwear, or even an underlying medical condition.

The severity of the pain can vary and may affect just one or two toes – sometimes the whole foot or even both feet might be affected. Metatarsalgia can worsen when weight is put on the foot, as may be the case when standing, walking, or running. See more here.

The main symptom of this pain in the ball of the foot, and is most pronounced when walking (especially on your toes) or engaging in sports.



The primary symptom of metatarsalgia is pain at the end of one or more of the metatarsal bones. The pain is typically aggravated when walking or running. Athletes who participate in high-impact activities and may also have an inflammatory condition such as bursitis often have diffuse forefoot and midfoot pain. Most often, the pain comes on over a period of several months, rather than suddenly. A condition known as Morton’s neuroma (interdigital neuroma) produces symptoms of metatarsalgia due to irritation and inflammation of a nerve at the site of pain. People with Morton’s neuroma may experience toe numbness in addition to pain in the forefoot.


The foot can be injured during sports activities. As with many other overuse injuries, the condition may be the result of an alteration in normal biomechanics that has caused an abnormal weight distribution.

Persistent stress can lead to chronic irritation and inflammation of the bone covering and adjacent tissues, such as ligaments and tendons.

The following factors can contribute to excessive localized pressure over the forefoot:

  • High level of activity
  • Prominent metatarsal heads
  • Tight toe extensors (muscles)
  • Weak toe flexors (muscles). Read more here.

However common traits of this kind of pain under the toes or in the ball of the foot with walking, running etc or shooting pain into the smaller toes sometimes with some swelling and pain to touch.

Metatarsalgia Treatment

The precise management plan for metatarsalgia will depend upon the suspected cause of the symptoms and appropriate responses. Naturally, the likely offender should be avoided during the rehabilitation and recovery phase as the patient builds up the strength in their feet to prevent a subsequent injury.

Physical Rehabilitation

Both a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist may be involved in the rehabilitation process to regain physical strength and ability to participate in normal daily activities. In the acute phase the first step to manage the pain resulting from metatarsalgia is the RICE protocol, which involves:

  • Rest: avoid weight bearing activity that may aggravate the foot pain
  • Ice: use cold therapy to prevent swelling and inflammation in the area
  • Compression: wrap or bandage the area to reduce inflammation
  • Elevation: keep foot elevated to reduce inflammation

After at least 24 hours to allow the body to recover, simple movement exercises can be introduced to improve strength, function range-of-motion of the foot. It is important that these exercises are continued throughout the healing process to enable the muscles and joints to heal correctly. Read full article here.

Treatments For Metatarsalgia Are Designed To Reduce Inflammation

Preventing metatarsalgia is often as simple as wearing the right shoes. The ligaments most commonly affected in the condition we call Metatarsalgia are called the Collateral ligaments, Plantar Plate Ligaments and the Joint Capsule. Most cases of this pain are marked by gradual pain, over the course of several months, at the end of one or more of the metatarsal bones. Treatment for the pain will cause your Metatarsalgia pain to improve and your Metatarsalgia to heal.

Many causes of metatarsalgia can be diagnosed by listening carefully to your complaints and examining you carefully, especially your foot. Untreated this pain can lead to hammertoes, can cause you to limp and cause pain in other parts of the body, including the lower back and hip.  If home remedies for the pain do not provide adequate relief from your pain, come in and see the experts at Chiropractor San Diego Mission Valley or you reach us here: (619) 831-8777 to give you expert advice for any kind of body pain.

Related Articles:
Sesamoiditis Injuries in the Foot
Tendonitis Foot Pain: How to deal?

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Author: Allison Yardley

Allison has 6 years in practice as a Chiropractor's Assistant and is a licensed Massage Therapist who writes for numerous blogs online. Feel free to comment or ask questions regarding any of Alley's blog posts.

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