Intermetatarsal Bursitis


  • A bursa is a fluid-filled cushioning sac. They are located near tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles that would otherwise rub directly across the surface of a bone. They are very important to prevent friction, absorb shock, and decrease the wear and tear between moving structures. The intermetatarsal bursae are located on the bottom of the foot near the base of the toes. They can be irritated when one metatarsal bone takes more load than the others. When this happens, the soft tissue between the bone and the skin becomes compressed and inflammation in the bursa can begin. Walking barefoot on a hardwood or tiled floor without cushioning will increase pain noticeably due to the direct pressure on the metatarsal bursa.

How did I get this?

  • It is commonly due to strain or irritation of the bursa. Wearing narrow or excessively worn footwear throughout the day or while playing sports also increase your chance of bursitis developing in your feet and toes.

What can I do about it?

  • Anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. Ibuprofen) can help although should not be taken for long periods without professional advice.
  • Hot or cold ice packs can help symptoms to improve.
  • Rest the foot.
  • Perform stretching exercises to improve joint motion.
  • Wear good fitting shoes.
  • Avoid high heels.
  • Wear a protective pad.
  • See a podiatrist.

What help can I get for this?

  • Podiatrists may advise appropriate shoes or add padding to your existing shoes, consider prescribing orthotics, advise taping / strapping.
  • Your Doctor may administer a cortisone injection to reduce inflammation if indicated, and possibly suggest surgical management.

When will it get better?

  • Conservative treatments may be sufficient to resolve symptoms and prevent recurrence. However, if the bursitis becomes chronic surgery may be necessary.