What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia treatment

Metatarsalagia treatment and pain in the ball of the foot.

Recently I have noticed that a lot of my clients are consulting Dr Google for clues as to why they are in pain and how to treat. The internet can be confusing and lead people to think they have very serious or very minor conditions. Today I will be clarifying the difference between a group of conditions that are routinely mistaken by my patients.

Metatarsal pain in the foot

Metatarsalgia is not one condition but an umbrella term that describes several types of pain in the ball of the foot. Taken literally it means “metatarsal pain”, which refers to the long bones in the front of the foot. It is, however, a misnomer as the term metatarsalgia can encompass much more than pain within the bones.

The ball of the foot is complex and consists of many structures including bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, nerves and the list goes on.

Any one of these structures can become damaged by shoes, activity, uneven surfaces or by poor foot mechanics. Once the podiatrist ascertains which structure has been damaged, they can diagnose your condition and start to treat you.

Matatarsalagia conditions and their treatment

Below is a list of conditions that are considered to be “metatarsalgia”

Neuroma or Mortons Neuroma

Where a nerve that runs between the metatarsals (long bones) becomes compressed and inflamed. The exact cause is unknown but it can be related to footwear and the way that the foot moves.


Between the long bones of the front of the foot, there are also fluid-filled sacks which act to absorb shock. These become inflamed and painful under similar circumstances as a Neuroma (see above). Once inflamed, swelling in the area can cause a nerve to be squeezed and it is unlikely to resolve without treatment.

Inflamed Joint Capsule (Capsulitis, Synovitis)

This occurs when a bone or joint is pronounced and hits the ground harder than the other bones. Because of the repeated trauma, the joint capsule is unable to heal and becomes painful.


Underneath and behind the big toe joint near the first metatarsal bone, there are two small round bones called Sesamoids. These bones help us to roll over our big toe joint and move forward when walking. If these bones are injured because of a bunion. These bones can easily become injured if you have a high arched foot or a pronounced big toe joint. It is made worse by hard floors and walking barefoot.

Turf Toe

Aptly named because of its high occurrence during sports that may be played on turf, turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint. It is usually caused by excessively bending the big toe joint forward during an activity where there is a high load on the foot. It commonly occurs in soccer, rugby, volleyball and basketball.

Stress Fracture

The matatarsals (long bones) can be subjected to immense amounts of pressure, particularly when performing repeated activity. If the bones can no longer cope with the stress being exerted onto them, a tiny crack, otherwise known as a stress fracture, may form. It is essential that these fractures are diagnosed as soon as possible so that they may be treated quickly.

Other conditions

Other metatarsalgia conditions include tendinitis (tendinopathy, tendinosis), a ganglion, osteoarthritis and gout. In order to effectively treat any of these conditions it is vital to identify the cause of the pain. To do this we need to locate exactly where the pain is occurring through a rigorous physical examination. For more information, contact a podiatrist in your area.

podiatrists eastern suburbs

Make a podiatrist appointment for Metatarsalagia treatment.

Our highly qualified and experienced podiatrists are experts in biomechanics and it’s our philosophy that the finest foot care requires an entirely bespoke experience. That’s why we are dedicated to providing entirely tailor-made diagnosis and treatment services that are the best in Australia.

Our dynamic practice has a holistic approach to resolving foot complaints.

From assessment and diagnosis to extraordinary treatment, every step of your journey with us will deliver you the ultimate podiatric experience, resulting in healthier and happier feet.

Book a consultation with our podiatrists in Sydney (Macquarie St)Darlinghurst and Randwick to discuss your condition and we’ll get you pain-free and back to full function as smoothly and quickly as possible, so you can return to the activities and life you love.


foot treatment Podiatry Sydney

The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.