Causes of Forefoot Pain (Or Metatarsalgia)

Posted by Jesse Flores on

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If you’re wondering why your feet hurt, the cause is going to depend on where your pain is located.

Your metatarsals are located in your forefoot, so if you have forefoot pain, these bones and the muscles and cartilage surrounding them, are probably to blame. Constant pain in the ball of your foot or the area around the big, second, and third or fourth toe is often known as Metatarsalgia and presents as a sharp or burning pain.

This type of pain is often caused by the foot impacting hard surfaces while walking or running and poor distribution of weight throughout the foot.

There are also a number of other factors, conditions, and activities that can lead to forefoot pain.

Hammer Toe

A common deformity of the second, third, or fourth toe, a hammer toe has an abnormal bend in its the middle joint causing it to bend downward. Hammer toe can cause foot pain in the bent toe and can increase the likelihood of developing painful corns or callouses on top of that toe.

Swelling, redness, or burning can occur and pain when trying to move the toe straighten it are common.

High Arches

High arches occur when you have a significant arch in the middle of the foot. A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals, causing pain. High arches can cause pain on a daily basis during physical activity, especially walking or standing all day.

Morton’s Neuroma

A Morton’s Neuroma is a thickening of the tissue between the third and fourth toes. A nerve will thicken when it’s compressed or irritated. Anything that pushes the foot into an unnatural shape can cause a Morton’s Neuroma. High heels can shift feet into unnatural positions and squish toes. Morton’s Neuroma can cause tingling, numbness, or a feeling like there is something in your shoe.

High Heel Shoes

Sorry, but high heels are not good for your feet. They push your toes together and add extra pressure to your forefoot. A high heel pushes weight and pressure onto your forefoot that was meant to be absorbed by the heel. You don’t have to give them up, but maybe consider wearing them a little less often or slipping a light insole into your favorite pair.


Other causes of forefoot pain can include:

A good course of treatment or prevention for any of these conditions is to make sure your feet are properly supported. Particularly if you stand all day or are extremely active, having the right type of support in your shoes can help you prevent a myriad of foot issues.

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare provider.


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