Metatarsalgia – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Metatarsalgia – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments  that many are unaware of. Also,  Metatarsalgia  is a condition where the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed. You can develop it if you participate in activities that involve running and jumping. There are other causes as well, including foot deformities and shoes that are too tight or too loose.

Although it’s usually not serious, Metatarsalgia  can sideline you. Fortunately, at-home treatments, such as ice and rest, often relieve symptoms. Wearing proper footwear with cushioning insoles or arch supports can prevent or minimize future problems with Metatarsalgia .

What is Metatarsalgia: Metatarsalgia , also known as a stone bruise, is a type of pain and inflammation that occurs in a part of the foot known as the metatarsal, or ball of the foot .
The metatarsal bones join the toes . Metatarsalgia  affects the heads of the metatarsals, where the three middle toes meet the ball of the foot. It most commonly affects the first metatarsal head , the ball of the foot just behind the big toe .

It is a common problem, especially among physically active people. High-impact sports, such as running and jumping, increase the risk. Sometimes it can result from poorly fitting footwear or an underlying medical condition.

Causes of  Metatarsalgia:  Sometimes a single factor can lead to Metatarsalgia . More often than not, several factors are involved, including:

  • Intense training or activity: Long-distance runners are at risk for Metatarsalgia , primarily because the front of the foot absorbs significant force when a person runs. But anyone who participates in a high-impact sport is at risk, especially if their shoes fit poorly or are worn out.
  • Certain foot shapes: A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals. Then you may have a second toe that is longer than the big toe , which causes more weight than normal to be shifted to the second metatarsal head .
  • Foot Deformities: Wearing too small shoes or high heels can cause your foot to be misshapen. A down-curling toe (hammertoe) and swollen, painful bumps at the base of your big toes (bunions) can cause Metatarsalgia .
  • Excess weight: Because most of your weight transfers from your body to your forefoot when you move, extra pounds means more pressure on your metatarsals. Losing weight can reduce or eliminate symptoms.
  • Ill-fitting shoes: High heels, which transfer extra weight to the front of your foot , are a common cause of Metatarsalgia  in women. Shoes with a narrow toe cap or athletic shoes that lack support and padding can also contribute to the problem.
  • Tension Fractures: Small tears in the metatarsals or toe bones can be painful and change the way you put weight on your foot.
  • Morton’s Neuroma: This noncancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve usually occurs between the third and fourth metatarsal heads . It causes symptoms that are similar to Metatarsalgia  and can also contribute to metatarsal stress.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia:  The pain can range from mild to severe. It is usually most noticeable and unpleasant when the individual is standing or moving.

  • There may be a burning or shooting pain, or a sharp pain, and there may be tingling or numbness in the toes.
  • It can affect the area near the toes and ball of the foot.
  • The pain may be worse on flexing the fingers.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia  can include:

  • Marked pain or burning in the ball of your foot – the part of the sole just behind your toes
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand, run, flex your feet , or walk — especially barefoot on a hard surface — and improves when you rest
  • Sharp or shooting pain, numbness or tingling in the toes
  • The feeling of having a stone in your shoe

When to see a doctor: Not all foot problems need medical attention. Sometimes your  feet hurt after a long day of standing or a punishing workout. But it’s best not to ignore foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. Talk to your doctor if you have burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn’t get better after changing your shoes and modifying your activities.

Symptoms usually develop slowly. However, sometimes they appear suddenly, especially if an increase in exercise puts pressure on the feet , such as running or jumping.

Diagnoses  of  Metatarsalgia:  Various foot problems can cause symptoms similar to those of Metatarsalgia . To help identify the source of your pain, your doctor will examine your foot while you are standing and when you sit down and ask about your lifestyle and activity level. You may need an X-ray to identify or rule out a stress fracture or other foot problems .

Metatarsalgia  Treatments : Treatment will primarily focus on relieving discomfort and pain.

Metatarsalgia  treatments can include:

  • applying ice to the area several times a day each time for 15 to 20 minutes. Ice must be wrapped to protect the skin
  • using over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, will reduce inflammation and relieve pain
  • keeping the pressure off the feet, and keeping the feet up when at rest

Exercise for Metatarsalgia  include:

  • going swimming or cycling instead of doing high-impact sports and exercise that puts pressure on your feet
  • exercising the ankle and stretching the Achilles tendon
  • using built-in insoles (orthotics), to reallocate pressure , improve foot function, and protect the ball of the foot
  • Strategies to support the foot include using metatarsal pads or a metatarsal bar to reduce pressure from the metatarsal bones, and shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports to relieve pressure when walking:
  • Using insoles can help support the foot and reduce pain.
  • Wearing insoles can support the foot and reduce pain.
  • In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend:
  • steroid infections to reduce pain and swelling
  • surgery to reshape the metatarsal bones, relieve or remove a trapped or irritated nerve, or straighten a hammer toe, if any.
  • Strategies to reduce the risk of developing Metatarsalgia  include wearing proper footwear.

Precautions for Metatarsalgia:  High-heeled shoes should be avoided. Shoes shouldn’t be too tight, and there should be adequate support and cushioning, preferably with a wide toe-box. Cushioned insoles can help prevent or relieve pain.

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight will reduce pressure on your feet.
  • People who are recovering from injuries should make sure they follow their doctor’s recommendations about when to resume strenuous activity.
  • Not treating Metatarsalgia , or returning to activities too soon, can lead to complications.
  • The pain can spread to other parts of the foot or to other parts of the body as the person adapts to their gait to control the pain.

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