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Forefoot Pain

The forefoot includes the metatarsal bones, phalanges (toe bones) and their connective soft tissues. Many conditions can cause pain in the metatarsals and toes.

Metatarsalgia and Sesamoiditis
Morton’s Neuroma
Toe Pain

Skeletal structures of the forefoot
Figure 1. Skeletal structures of the foot, with forefoot bones highlighted in yellow.

Metatarsalgia and sesamoiditis

Metatarsalgia is a blanket term for pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot caused by an underlying condition, such as the malalignment of one or more toes (as found in a bunion) or arthritis. Read more about metatarsalgia. Sesamoiditis refers to inflammation of the two, small sesamoids beneath the big toe joint, where the first metatarsal meets the first proximal phalanx. Sesamoids, bones embedded within a tendon, are found in joints throughout the body.

Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is pain caused by a pinched nerve, usually between the third and fourth metatarsal head [Figure 2]. Read more about Morton's neuroma.

Structures of the foot, showing the common location of mortons neuroma
Figure 2. Skeletal structures of the foot, showing the common location of Morton’s neuroma

Toe pain

Common injuries and conditions that cause toe pain include:

Bunions (hallux valgus)
Stiff big toe (hallux rigidus)

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