Metatarsalgia is a general name given to pain in the front part of your foot under the heads of your metatarsal bones. Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different conditions affecting the foot. It is really a symptom of other problems rather than a specific disease itself.

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Metatarsalgia causes pain in the ball of your foot that can be made worse by standing, walking or running. Some people describe the pain as feeling like they are walking on pebbles. Others describe more of a general aching pain. The pain can occur in one or both feet. Metatarsalgia usually comes on gradually over some weeks rather than suddenly. The affected area of your foot may also feel tender when you (or your doctor) press on it.

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Metatarsalgia is caused by a wide variety of conditions, some common causes of metatarsalgia include:

  • Wear and tear- over the years the fat pad that protects the foot can thin, increasing the likelihood of feeling pain in the ball of the foot
  • Bone structure of the foot – narrow, high-arched or flat feet can increase the chance of metatarsalgia, for example one metatarsal bone may be much longer than the others.
  • High-impact sports such as running or tennis put extra pressure on the foot
  • Overuse
  • Stress fractures in the foot – these occasionally occur in athletes, runners or walkers.
  • Having a stiff ankle or Achilles tendon
  • Badly fitting footwear, high-heeled or tight, restrictive shoes or boots – shoes with a narrow toe area or high heels can force the ball of the foot into a small amount of space, which puts more pressure on that area
  • Weight gain can increase the pressure on the foot
  • Arthritis, gout or inflammation of the joints in the ball of the foot can produce local pain.
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In most cases, Metatarsalgia can be greatly helped by the use of correctly fitted custom made insoles and ensuring that you wear good quality, properly fitted footwear, especially when running, walking or doing sports with high impact on the feet, helping to prevent recurring symptoms.


  • Losing weight if you are overweight.
  • If you have diabetes, good control of your diabetes may reduce your chance of developing foot problems.
  • Rest with your feet elevated and reduce your daily physical activity.
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This condition Explained


“Most causes of metatarsalgia can be helped by a supportive insole by applying the correct support and cushioning, pressures in the forefoot can be reduced, helping to relieve the symptoms. Here at The Foot & Insole Specialist we are able to build a unique, three-dimensional insole that follows the exact contours of your feet.

The state-of-the-art thermo moulding technology enables me to create an insole to cup and stabilise the heel, support the arch and create contact and support throughout the foot, helping to relieve the high pressures at the heel and forefoot, whilst also providing extra cushioning and foot control.