Forefoot pain refers to pain and discomfort felt toward the top of the foot. The rate of forefoot pain and deformity increases with age. When a cause cannot be determined, any pain on the ball of the foot is generally referred to as metatarsalgia.
Forefoot pain may be due to:
- Morton's neuroma
- Stress fractures
A neuroma usually means a benign tumor of a nerve. However, Morton's neuroma, also called interdigital neuroma, is not actually a tumor. It is a thickening of the tissue surrounding the nerves leading to the toes. Morton's neuroma usually develops when the bones in the third and fourth toes pinch together, compressing a nerve. It can also occur in other locations. The nerve becomes enlarged and inflamed. The inflammation causes a burning or tingling sensation and cramping in the front of the foot. Other causes of this condition include:
- Tight, poorly-fitting shoes
- Abnormal bone structure
Treatment for Neuromas. Pain from Morton's neuroma can be reduced by massaging the affected area. Roomier shoes (box-toed shoes), pads of various sorts, and cortisone injections in the painful area are also helpful. A combination of cortisone injections and shoe modifications provides better immediate relief than changes in footwear alone. Ultrasound-guided injection of alcohol might also provide relief from Morton's neuroma, research finds.
Review Date: 01/30/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.