What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia occurs when the area that is considered the ball of the foot becomes inflamed and painful. There are five metatarsal bones in the foot and they are situated between the phalanges and the tarsal bones. When the top portion of a metatarsal bone pushes against an adjacent one, this squeezes the nerve and results in pain and inflammation.

There are various reasons why individuals get metatarsalgia and these include wearing shoes that do not fit correctly, wearing shoes that have high heels and engaging in sports or exercise that puts stress on the feet. Some medical issues can also contribute to this disorder and they include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and bunions.

What are the Symptoms of Metatarsalgia?

Individuals who experience metatarsalgia may have pain in the toes, pain in the area that is down from the toes, excessive foot pain when standing and intensified pain when walking without shoes. Some people who have this condition often feel a burning pain in the foot or they may have sharp pains that come about suddenly.

The symptoms normally materialize at a slow rate but they can appear suddenly when excess strain is placed on the feet by physical activities, such as jogging.

Metatarsalgia Causes

Metatarsalgia, or stone bruise, is a condition that affects the foot, due to a number of contributing factors. While just one of these factors may be enough to precipitate the occurrence of this condition, it’s more common for more than one causal element to bring about metatarsalgia. Intense training, especially running, can be one risk for developing the injury, because pressure is continuously being placed on the ball of the foot. Any high-impact sport can create the conditions for developing stone bruise.

Foot deformities, irregular foot shapes, and ill-fitting shoes can all contribute to causing metatarsalgia. When shoes aren’t properly fitted or a longer than normal middle toe puts more pressure on the metatarsal heads, stone bruise can develop over time. Likewise, obesity can put too much weight on the foot, resulting in great pressure on the toes and the ball of the foot. Stress fractures, tiny tears in the toes, can also cause metatarsalgia by changing the way you put weight on the foot.

How is Metatarsalgia Treated?

Individuals can help their symptoms of metatarsalgia by abstaining from activities, such as sports and exercise, that aggravate the condition by placing strain on the feet. While relaxing, individuals should put their feet up so they do not put pressure on the bottom of their feet.

Doctors often suggest wearing different types of shoes and using orthotics to provide support for the feet. Some individuals opt to have steroid injections to help with swollen and painful feet. If these treatments do not provide adequate relief, foot surgery is the last option. During this procedure, a surgeon may change the form of the metatarsal bones or eliminate the nerve that is causing the foot pain.

Metatarsalgia Prevention

In preventing metatarsalgia, the most important element is properly fitted shoes. Shoes are designed with toe boxes that leave enough room both in the width and the height to allow for proper movement, but this is dependent upon the individual selecting the correct size. Wearing shoes with very high heels or shoes that have pointed toes is greatly discouraged, as these kinds of shoes put too much pressure on the middle toes and the ball of the foot.

Additionally, padded socks or extra soles are advised, especially in cases where the individual will be spending the majority of his time on his feet. Non-slip outsoles are also recommended. Anything that can reduce pressure and strain on the metatarsal heads, located within the ball of the foot, will significantly reduce the risk of experiencing metatarsalgia.