Metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of the foot. This is the site amidst the arches and toes on the base of the foot. The condition generally involves the 5 bones beneath the toes, specifically the metatarsals.
Not all the causes of metatarsalgia have been identified. Aside from frequent running, wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels can lead to the condition. Certain conditions such as being overweight, gout, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can contribute to the condition as well.
The discomfort can be brought about by various conditions and have a variety of treatment options.
Who are at risk?
- Any individual can develop metatarsalgia, but runners and those who engage in high-impact sports are more likely to end up with the condition.
- Those who have high arches can also develop the condition. The arch places pressure on the metatarsals.
- Those who have a longer second toe than the big toe
- Foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes
The characteristic indication of metatarsalgia is pain in the metatarsal region beneath the ball of the foot. The condition may or may not be accompanied by swelling, bruising or inflammation. Generally, the symptoms can arise rapidly or develop over time such as:
- Pain in the ball of the foot that can be aching, sharp or burning. The pain is aggravated when running, standing or walking.
- Tingling or numbness in the toes
- Sensation of a pebble in the shoe
If the individual has any of these ongoing symptoms, a doctor should be seen. If not treated, it can lead to hammertoes which causes the individual to limp and pain might arise in other body parts including the hip and lower back.
Management of metatarsalgia
Metatarsalgia can be managed easily without requiring surgery.
- The doctor might suggest the use of a metatarsal pad, shoe insert or surgical shoe to relieve the sore area in the foot.
- Rocker or athletic shoes might be recommended.
- Shoes that are built with good soles, wide toe box and low heel are highly beneficial.
- Soaking the foot and using a pumice stone to get rid of calluses can help relieve the pressure.
In case these measures could not relieve metatarsalgia, injection or surgery might be required to manage the condition.