Metatarsalgia: A Long Word for Ball of Foot Pain
You know that foot pain is common for those who run track, play sports like tennis or soccer, or wear high heels. Wait: wear high heels? Yes, it’s true that wearing shoes that put more pressure on the ball of your foot makes you susceptible to developing soreness there. When pain affects the metatarsal heads, in the area at the base of your toes, it is called metatarsalgia.
What Causes Metatarsal Pain?
Pain in the ball of your foot can have many causes, but they are usually related to overuse or a faulty walking mechanism. Running, jumping, and pushing off with your toes can irritate the bones of your foot over time causing the surrounding tissue to become swollen or inflamed. Other times, ball of foot pain is present because your bones don’t move in the normal way. This can be caused by an inherited foot structure like high arches, by a condition like a bunion or hammertoe, by being overweight, or even by the shoes you wear. All of these concerns can alter the way your weight is distributed on the foot, and the resulting pressure can cause the same symptoms that intense activity often does.
How Is Metatarsalgia Treated?
The first thing is to determine if you have this condition, as opposed to a fracture or another problem. A visit to My Chicago Foot Expert will determine the exact cause of your pain. Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos will ask questions about your medical history and your activities and examine your foot to diagnose the problem. Tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs can aid in that diagnosis and rule out or confirm a fracture.
Thankfully, many times the pain can be treated with conservative measures. We may recommend rest to allow the problem to heal, icing several times a day to reduce swelling and pain, or certain medications to treat pain and inflammation. We can advise you on the type of shoes, over-the-counter inserts, or metatarsal pads that would help cushion the ball of your foot. We can also fit you with custom orthotics to correct a faulty gait and redistribute the pressure that is put on your feet. Surgery is only recommended in rare cases to correct the bone alignment.
Keeping Metatarsalgia at Bay
The best treatment is to prevent the pain from developing in the first place. Shoes are a starting point. Make sure yours cushion and support your feet properly. Don’t wear heels that put all your weight on the balls of your feet – it’s just asking for trouble. Your toes should not feel pinched and should have room to wiggle freely.
Next, be wise when you exercise. Increase the intensity of your routines gradually, and wear the right footwear for the sport you are playing. Stretch after a workout and vary your exercise – take a day off from running and try biking or swimming instead. Also, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Every pound you weigh adds three or four pounds of stress to your feet when you walk or run. Finally, try custom orthotics or doctor recommended inserts to give support and cushioning where it is needed, and head off problems before they start.
Pain in your feet is not normal. If you feel like you are walking on pebbles and ball-of-foot pain is cramping your style, contact My Chicago Foot Expert today. Call (773) 561-8100 for comprehensive and caring attention to your feet, or request an appointment online. We’ll be delighted to help get rid of your foot pain!