reference presentation true The Foot and Ankle Knowledgebase, L.L.C., L.L.C., L.L.C. 2000 en-US Forefoot Pain | Causes and treatment options forefoot pain,ball of the foot pain,ball of foot pain,metatarsal pain,metatarsal foot pain,metatarsal injury,metatarsal head pain,metatarsalgia pain,metatarsalgia treatment,symptoms of metatarsalgia,information for patients with forefoot pain Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of forefoot pain - part of the Foot and Ankle Knowledge Base.

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The forefoot includes that area of the foot also known as the ball-of-the-foot. The forefoot is a unique area of the foot that creates the final terminus of the foot and ground at the toe-off stage of gait. The forefoot sustains a significant amount of load during gait and is therefore susceptible to a number of unique problems.



The symptoms of forefoot pain vary with each individual forefoot problem.  Use this article as a guide to understand the individual foot problems that may contribute to forefoot pain.


Forefoot painThe internal support and structure of the forefoot consists of five metatarsal bones that originate in the midfoot and descend at an angle to meet the toes. Each of the five metatarsal bones terminate at the metatarsal phalangeal joints (mpj's). The plantar, or bottom aspect of the mpj is often called the ball of the foot. Due to the amount of load bearing applied to the forefoot in walking and running, the forefoot is prone to a number of different injuries.

The distal portion of the forefoot consists of the 1st mpj and the lesser mpj's (2-5). The great toe joint (1st mpj) is a bit unique in that the anatomy of the great toe joint is a bit different than that of the lesser mpj's. To a degree, the lesser mpj's act independently of the 1st mpj. Therefore , any discussion of forefoot conditions should be broken into those problems specific to the 1st mpj and those problems specific to the lesser mpj's (2-5).

The following is a list of common forefoot conditions. To find more information about these conditions, follow the highlighted link.

Forefoot conditions specific to the 1st mpj.

1. Bunion
2. Gout
3. Hallux limitus
4. Hallux rigidus
5. Pseudogout
6. Sesamoid fractures
7. Sesamoiditis
8. Turf toe

Forefoot conditions specific to the lesser mpj's (2-5).

1. Bursitis
2. Capsulitis
3. Freiberg's Infraction
4. Metatarsalgia
5. Morton's Neuroma
6. Metatarsal stress fractures
7. Tailor's bunion

Causes and contributing factors

The causes and contributing factors of forefoot pain are many and include excessive time spent on the feet, poorly fitting shoes and trauma.


The treatment of forefoot pain is specific to each individual condition.  Please refer to individual forefoot conditions for treatment recommendations.

When to contact your doctor

Forefoot pain that does not respond to a reasonable period of conservative care should be evaluated by your podiatrist or orthopedist.

Author(s) and date

Dr. Jeffrey OsterThis article was written by medical director Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM.  

Competing Interests - None

Peer Reviewed - This article is peer reviewed by an open source editorial board.  Your comments and suggestions to improve this paper are appreciated.

Cite this article as: Oster, Jeffrey. Forefoot Pain.

Most recent article update: December 23, 2015.

Creative Commons License  Forefoot Pain by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.