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Pain in the Ball of the Foot May Be Metatarsalgia

If the holiday season has you aching for foot pain relief, you may be suffering from metatarsalgia. It’s a long word but easy to understand when you break it down: the 5 metatarsal bones run down the foot from the toes to the ankle. When these bones are stressed over a period of time, chronic inflammation and irritation of adjacent ligaments, tendons and the bone covering can result.

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury, meaning that the area is subject to repetitive stress without allowing adequate time for the foot to heal. Athletes participating in certain high-impact sports that involve running or jumping are at high risk for this injury. Other causes include:

  • Intense weight-bearing activity
  • Excess weight
  • Overly tight or weak muscles in the toes
  • Foot deformities like hammertoe, claw toe or a very high arch
  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Excessive foot pronation or side-to-side movement when running or walking
  • Poorly-fitting footwear
  • Arthritis

Symptoms and Treatment of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia causes increasing pain in the area of the ball of the foot or the toes, especially while walking barefoot or during sports activities. Some patients develop a callus under the joint because of excessive pressure on the forefoot.

If your pain continues, please call us for an appointment. Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM will first take x-rays to rule out any fractures. Other diagnostic tests can pinpoint the area of inflammation and identify any other conditions like Morton’s neuroma or bursitis.

To treat metatarsalgia, reduce the excess pressure with:

  • Rest – take a break from most activities including sports and exercise.
  • Ice the area.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications as directed.
  • Wear supportive, well-fitting footwear.
  • Custom-fitted orthotics can help relieve pressure and reduce over-pronation.
  • Losing weight will reduce stress on the feet.

We will guide you to gradually begin stretching and strengthening exercises when the inflammation and pain have subsided, and discuss the best way to return to your exercise program.

Don’t Wait To Relieve the Pain of Metatarsalgia

This painful foot condition will not get better on its own. Call Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist for an evaluation examination. You can reach us at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. There’s no reason to live with the pain of metatarsalgia when we can help!