All You Need To Know About Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a common foot problem, often referred to as ball-of-foot pain. The term metatarsalgia is derived from the word metatarsal which means the long foot bones, and the Greek term algos which means pain. The pain is usually as a result of overuse or too much pressure on the bones in the middle of the foot.

The metatarsal bones are designed to share the body weight equally, especially when walking or doing a strenuous activity. When this balance is disrupted, some muscles are forced to bear more pressure than appropriate, thereby causing injury. The injury may manifest in mild or intense pain on the ball of the foot.

Common Causes of Metatarsalgia

There are a number of reasons that can result to pain in the ball of the foot. Some of the most common reasons are systemic diseases and abnormal bone formation. Alteration of the metatarsals’ posture can cause stress to the nerves. Once the posture is changed, some bones absorb more pressure than others when walking. Sometimes the pressure can be too much and a bone can succumb to it, causing a mild fracture and consequent malfunction. The following are additional causes of metatarsalgia.

Degenerative joints conditions such as arthritis.

Skin lesion or calluses that disturb the delicate balance of the foot

Thinning of the fatty tissue that protects the foot pad, which could be a sign of aging.

Strenuous exercises that exerts too much pressure on the ball of the foot may lead to pain under the ball of the foot, also known in German as schmerzen im fussballenSuch exercises include jogging and jumping.

Medical conditions such as gout, bunions, hammer toes and Morton’s neuroma can cause metatarsalgia. Gout is caused by formation of crystals in the joints, causing inflammation. Bunions are deformities of the bone, especially the big toe, which weakens the toe, thereby transferring the pressure to other bones. This imbalance can cause metarsalgia. Hammertoes are formed when toes bend downwards. This bending affects the distribution of pressure on the metatarsals. Morton’s neuroma is a foot condition whereby the nerves are compressed, causing pain between toes.

Shoes can cause foot problems, especially if they are ill fitting. Shoes that are a size smaller can cramp the toes and put unnecessary pressure on the bones. High heels and shoes with a small toe box are also among the top causes of metatarsalgia.

Prominent or big metatarsal heads can also cause pain in the ball of the foot.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

The most common symptom of this condition is pain in the ball of the foot. The pain can be mild or intense depending on the extent of the injury. Sometime the condition is manifested through discomfort when wearing shoes, or when you walk or run.

You may feel pain when walking bare feet on hard surfaces. Sometimes the pain may become worse as you walk, but decreases once you take the pressure off the feet. Sometimes the pain at the ball of the feet can cause tingling sensations or even pain in some toes.

Prevention and Treatment of Metatarsalgia

There are a few things that you can do to keep your feet healthy and pain free. Here are some of the simple things you can do to prevent foot pain.

Wear comfortable and proper footwear. Avoid tight fitting and high heeled shoes. When shopping, look for a pair of shoes that is adequately padded to provide the necessary cushioning and support to the feet. It is also advisable to look for shoes with a wide toe box to prevent cramping the toes.

If you are experiencing mild pain, you can use arch supports to keep the pain in check.  The supports are also referred to as cushioned insoles, and they help to relieve the pain caused by metatarsalgia.

Many overweight people may experience foot pain since the foot muscles are under more pressure. If you discover that the foot pain is due to obesity, it is advisable to lose weight to curb the development of the metatarsalgia.

If you have suffered an injury that resulted in foot pain, it is advisable to follow your doctor’s advice strictly as pertains to the recovery time. Many foot problems re-occur when patients ignore doctor’s orders.

Treatment Options

Ice packs work very well on the injured foot when used several times a day for at least 15 minutes. You can use the ice packs together with anti inflammatory medicines to ease the pain. There are numerous OTC drugs such as ibuprofen that can offer fast relief to foot pain.

If the foot pain is unbearable even after wearing comfortable shoes fitted with arch supports, you may go for steroid injections. They effectively reduce the swelling and the pain. The last option should be foot surgery, which is recommended after all therapies fail.

Metatarsalgia is a painful condition which can be prevented and treated. If you suffer from foot pain, do not despair. You can get relief.





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