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What Causes You To Have Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is the major source of foot’s ball pain and the term comes from two different words i.e. a Greek word algos meaning pain and a medical term metatarsals i.e. long bones of one’s foot.[1] Metatarsal bones are responsible to share your body weight equally while you walk, jog, run or perform your daily activities. Whenever the delicate balance prevails between bones disrupts, it results in mild to intense form of foot pain.[2] Accordingly, metatarsalgia indicates to various types of problems often experienced by individuals in the area of foot’s ball.

What Causes You To Have Metatarsalgia?

Causes of pain or inflammation associated with metatarsalgia attributes to many factors, which include abnormalities present in your bone area to diabetes and other related systemic problems.

Posture Alterations in Metatarsals or Long Bones

Posture alterations in the metatarsals or long bones of one’s foot area are the prime causes of the problem of metatarsalgia. These bones absorb your body weight while you walk and in case a single bone fails down because of the lack of support or weakness, it leads to dysfunction among other bones. In addition, your condition becomes worse in case your bone becomes long abnormally or suffers fracture due to stress.[3]

Prime Factors Causing Metatarsalgia

Along with the aforementioned cause, you may experience metatarsalgia because of few prime factors, which include the following-

Intense Activity or Physical Training. Distance runners remain at relatively higher risk related to metatarsalgia mainly due to the absorption of significant force by the feet while an individual runs. Even the risk increases if a person participates in any high-impact sport with poorly fit shoes.

Specific Shapes of the Foot. High arch is responsible to put extra pressure on your metatarsals. Hence, in case your second toe is relatively long than your big toe, it causes higher weight than normal and thereby, shifts towards the second metatarsal head.[4]

Deformities in Your Feet. Wearing high heels or two-small shoes may cause misshapen to your feet. Especially, you may suffer from metatarsalgia in case you experience painful bumps, swelling and hammertoe or downward curling toe at the downward area of your bunions or big toes.

Overweight or Obesity. As majority of the bodyweight of an individual transfers to the forefoot whenever he or she moves, the extra pounds or kilograms creates higher amount of pressure on the metatarsals. Positively, you may overcome your problem or eliminate your symptoms by simply losing your extra body weight.

Ill Fitting Shoes. High heels responsible to transfer additional weight towards the front part of your feet are major causes related to metatarsalgia in women. Shoes come with narrow space for toes or athletic shoes lacking padding and support contribute towards the problem.

Stress Fractures. Small breaks in your toe bones or metatarsals may cause pain and result in changes in the way, in which you place the bodyweight on your feet.

Morton’s Neuroma. Morton’s neuroma refers to the noncancerous growth associated with fiber tissues across a nerve and it often takes place in between the third and the fourth metatarsal heads. Moreover, the problem causes symptoms similar to those take place in metatarsalgia as well as contribute towards the metatarsal stress.[5] [6]

Other Factors to Cause Metatarsalgia

An individual may even suffer from pain in the foot’s ball area i.e. metatarsalgia because of-

  • Enlarged metatarsal head
  • Degenerative type of joints’ disease or arthritis
  • Diabetes and other systemic conditions leading to nerve-type inflammation and pain in your feet[7]
  • Skin lesions or calluses, which place the bodyweight on your feet and thereby cause distribution in an uneven way
  • Ageing problems tending to shifting or thinning out of the fat tissues from your footpad
  • Sports placing excessive pounding on the ball of your foot, including jogging


To conclude, we should say that the problem of metatarsalgia takes place because of many reasons/causes with the common cause of posture alterations in metatarsals.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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