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What is Metatarsalgia?

PORTADAS WEB_metatarsalgia
Gustavo Lucar López
Traumatology consultation and surgical procedures
23 Feb 2024
2 Min
The expert's voice

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is the pain or inflammation located in the plantar area of the forefoot, where the heads of the metatarsal bones are located, the joint that connects with the fingers and the intermetatarsal nerves. It is a condition that arises especially when walking, standing for a long time, or wearing narrow-toed shoes.

Metatarsalgia Causes

The metatarsal is the area of the foot where the most weight is supported when exercising, jumping or walking and, if it suffers from excessive support or pressure, it can cause pain, toe cramps and altered walking patterns.

It can also be caused by a bad step or the morphology of the foot itself, if it suffers from deformations, such as bunions or if it is a cavus foot. Other causes may be the use of inappropriate footwear, either with an excessive heel, a small sole, or with a toe that is too narrow. Finally, advanced age or being overweight can also play a role.

Metatarsalgia Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms is pain in the “foot pad,” the part of the sole just behind the toes. It is described as a sensation of continuous, intense, stabbing pain near the toes, which worsens when standing or walking on hard surfaces and improves when you rest.

Sometimes it also manifests itself with hardness and calluses in the area of the toes, or with a sensation of having a stone in the shoe.

Metatarsalgia Diagnosis

Given these types of symptoms, it is advisable to visit a Traumatologist to perform a physical examination and thus assess the case and its specific location. An x-ray or an MRI or ultrasound are also usually performed.

If left untreated, metatarsalgia can cause pain in other parts of the foot or the opposite foot, as well as in the lower back or hip.

Metatarsalgia Treatment

The pain usually improves with rest and the use of appropriate shoes. In milder cases, the usual treatment consists of:

  • Apply cold/ice several times a day.
  • Rest and/or change of sports habits (lower impact exercises).
  • Change of footwear, with flexible soles, wide toes and a heel that does not exceed 2 or 3 cm.
  • Use of custom templates.


If the pain persists and there is no improvement with the initial treatment, depending on the case, an infiltration treatment or surgical intervention may be required. The surgical treatment consists of an osteotomy, in which the metatarsal that causes excess support is shortened and in some cases the release of the nerve is recommended if it is trapped.

Metatarsalgia Prevention

To avoid metatarsalgia, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and, above all, always perform physical activity with appropriate footwear and on soft surfaces. It is also advisable to carry out a study of the footprint in order to better understand our foot and its mechanics and know how to adapt our shoes and habits, in order to avoid pain.

Our feet play a fundamental role in our daily lives, so it is essential to pay attention and care to them. Faced with the symptoms of metatarsalgia, the Traumatology specialists at CreuBlanca will evaluate your case and, after reaching a diagnosis, will prescribe a personalized treatment for you. It is important to carry out individualized monitoring and treatment to prevent possible complications and avoid collateral damage.

Make an appointment with one of our specialists.