Some things that may cause metatarsalgia are:

  • Stress fractures
  • Bunions
  • Arthritis
  • Pinched nerves
  • Morton neuroma
  • Sesamoiditis

Risk Factors

Metatarsalgia is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Feet with high arches
  • Feet with abnormally long bones
  • Hammer toes
  • Playing high-impact sports
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit well or high heels
  • Problems with blood flow
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
Claw Toes
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Problems may be:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot or in the toe
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes or foot
  • Pain that is worse when standing, walking, or running
  • A feeling that a person has a pebble in their shoe


The doctors will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the foot.

Pictures may need to be taken of the foot. This can be done with X-rays.



The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote healing. Options are:

  • Rest, ice, and elevation
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Shoe inserts or insoles to provide support and ease pain

Some people may need surgery to treat foot problems that are causing metatarsalgia.


The risk of metatarsalgia can be lowered by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Wearing properly fitting shoes

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.