Metatarsal Bones

What are the Metatarsals and Where are They Located

The metatarsal bones, also known as metatarsals, are a group of five long convex tubular foot bones located between the tarsals and the toe bones or phalanges of each foot. They are analogous to the metacarpal bones of the hand, composing the forefoot.

How Many Metatarsals are There in the Foot

As stated, there are 5 metatarsals in each foot, one for each digit.  Lacking individual names, they are numbered from the medial side of the body, i.e., the side of the great toe, using Roman numerals I-V. According to the ascending order of their length, they are: first, fifth, fourth, third, and second. Among all, the first metatarsal is shorter and thicker.

Metatarsal Bones X Ray
  1. First Metatarsal: For the big toe
  2. Second Metatarsal: For the second toe
  3. Third Metatarsal: For the third toe
  4. Fourth Metatarsal: For the fourth toe
  5. Fifth Metatarsal: For the fifth or little toe

Structure and Anatomy

Each metatarsal shares a similar structure. They are long bones that arch upwards, giving them a convex shape. Consequently, they are concave on the side of the sole (plantar surface). Each bone consists of the following parts, arranged in the given order from the side of the toe.

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Shaft
  • Base

There is a tuberosity on the outer side of the base of the fifth metacarpal that can be felt from the outside.

Metatarsal Bones

Joints and Articulations in the Metatarsal Region

Tarsometatarsal Joints

The name itself infers that the joint is formed between the tarsal and metatarsal bones. The metatarsal bases articulate with one or more tarsal bones, namely the cuboid and the three cuneiforms.

Intermetatarsal Joints

As the name suggests, these joints are formed in between the adjacent metatarsals. Here, the bases of the metatarsals articulate with each other.

Metatarsophalangeal Joints

The name shows that these joints are present between the metatarsals and phalanges or toe bones. In this case, the tarsal heads articulate with their corresponding toe bones.

Functions of the Metatarsal Bones

The metatarsals, especially the first metatarsal, along with the tarsals, bear and support the body’s weight while walking or standing by forming the arches of the foot. Thus, they provide balance and comfort.


Q.1. What are the common injuries and conditions associated with the metatarsals?

Ans. The metatarsals are prone to stress fractures due to stress and injury. Another condition, called metatarsalgia, may also occur, where the ball of the foot becomes painful and inflamed.


    1. Bones of the Foot: Tarsals, Metatarsals and Phalanges –
    2. Metatarsal bones –
    3. Metatarsals –
    4. Bones of the Foot –
    5. Metatarsal Bone –