Metatarsalgia is not an injury; it’s actually a symptom or a group of symptoms. These may include pain in the ball of the foot, with or without bruising, and inflamation. Metatarsalgia can have a number of causes and, as a result, a number of treatments.
Localized pain in the ball of the foot, on the bottom of the foot, in the area of the sole of the foot just before the toes. Metatarsalgia, the scientific name for this problem, is a painful but common occurrence
One of the hallmarks of this disorder is pain in the ball of the foot during weight-bearing activities (running, walking, standing, etc.). Sharp or shooting pains in the toes also may be present, and pain in the toes and/or ball of the foot may increase when the toes are flexed. Accompanying symptoms may include tingling or numbness in the toes. It is common to experience acute, recurrent or chronic pain as a result of this problem. Some patients describe the feeling as being like “walking over pebbles, ” and others, whose pain is localized in one area, may wonder if they actually have a stone bruise.
There is no one specific cause of metatarsalgia. We have narrowed it down to a handful of factors, all of which have a common denominator: a forced change of the dynamics of the foot. In plain English, that means the foot is not moving as it should, and as a result, one or more of the metatarsal heads has become painful, often because of inflammation.
If you’ve noticed pain in your forefoot, which gets worse during walking, running or standing, and/or pain in your toes, particularly when flexing them, you have some of the classic symptoms of metatarsalgia. Another hallmark is increased pain when going barefoot, particularly when standing or walking on a hard surface like tile, concrete, marble or asphalt, as opposed to carpet or grass. You may notice that over time, you begin to adjust your stride to avoid putting pressure on the ball of the foot.
The good news is that while painful and annoying, metatarsalgia is generally treatable with conservative measures, particularly once the origin of the problem is identified.
Metatarsalgia develops when something changes or threatens the normal mechanics (working action) of the foot. Ultimately, this creates excessive pressure in the ball of the foot, and that leads to metatarsalgia. Some of the causes of metatarsalgia include:
Some of the best treatments come from being proactive. Stick to shoes that fit properly, particularly in the toe area. Avoid high heels whenever possible. If you have pain in the ball of your foot already, don’t panic. Treatment is generally conservative. However, it is imperative to have any foot problem checked by one of our modpod Podiatrists. We can help you determine whether or not the problem is, in fact, metatarsalgia, since there are other problems which have similar symptoms but require different treatment.
Assuming you have a routine case of metatarsalgia, with no complicating factors, such as diabetes, we generally will probably recommend one or more of the following measures, based upon your particular case of metatarsalgia:
What else? Occasionally, if other factors are complicating the problem, such as hammertoes or a trapped or pinched nerve in the foot, your modpod podiatristwill recommend corrective surgery. However, it is important to note that the vast majority of patients are helped by the steps outlined above.
Metatarsalgia isn’t confined to one particular gender or age group, although it is women who wear high heels, and those types of shoes contribute significantly to the problem. However, athletes of either gender (this includes those “weekend warrior” types) who run, walk, play tennis, etc. in worn-out, too-tight or improper shoes can develop the problem, as can anyone who for, whatever reason, wears shoes that cause the forefoot to receive too much pressure. Remember that a lack of shoe cushioning also can play a role, so make sure athletic shoes, work shoes, and others are replaced according to the recommendation of your podiatric physician. (Note, too, that athletic shoes are activity-specific; in other words, tennis shoes are for tennis, not running, and so forth).
No – there are several problems with similar symptoms. Your Modpod Podiatrist knows how to diagnose and treat them, although treatment can vary, according to the specific problem. Using home remedies and waiting for the problem to go away on its own is not a good idea. After all, if your feet hurt, nothing else matters.
This assessment includes: