The ball of the foot can be a center of sensations both wonderful and horrible. If it’s the target of a nice massage, it can feel amazing; but when pain is shooting through it, you’re definitely going to feel that too! Metatarsalgia is an inflammation of your metatarsals, the long bones just below your toes. It’s often not a serious issue, but the discomfort can certainly be distracting. Luckily, knowing the symptoms of metatarsalgia and ways to treat it can help reduce or avoid the soreness.
Follow the Bouncing Ball
Metatarsalgia can result from a number of different means, but they mostly boil down to excess pressure or impacts on the ball of your foot. Athletes, especially runners, can be at a heightened risk for the condition as the fronts of their feet can absorb a hefty amount of force as they run. Shoe choices can also play a role if what you wear is worn out and lacks the proper support or padding. High heels can add even further distress by shifting body weight onto the metatarsals and cramming the toes into a narrow area.
Additional elements can add to metatarsal inflammation, including one’s natural foot shape, foot deformities such as hammertoe and bunions, and conditions such as Morton’s neuroma. Having extra body weight can also place excess pressure on the metatarsals over time, resulting in pain.
Pain is at the forefront of metatarsalgia symptoms, but paying attention to the type and location can help identify the problem. Pain in the ball of the foot is often described as “aching,” “sharp,” or “burning” just behind the toes, although there can be also be a shooting pain or numbness in the toes themselves. The pain frequently worsens while standing, running, or generally flexing the feet, but gets better when you rest. You might also have the sensation that you are stepping on a pebble, or that one is in your shoe.
Making a Rebound
In many cases, the pain of inflamed metatarsals can be treated at home. Resting and elevating your foot will allow a better opportunity for recovery after time standing or walking. You might also wish to try applying ice to the area for about 20 minutes several times each day or use an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease discomfort.
Certain changes to your footwear and lifestyle could also make a difference. A switch to shoes more supportive of your foot shape, along with the use of arch supports and metatarsal pads, can reduce stress on the metatarsals, resulting in improvement. Losing excess weight can also relieve pressure and reduce the likelihood of future problems.
If your metatarsalgia pain doesn’t improve in several days after making changes to your activities and footwear, that’s the time to see Dr. Jennifer Keller and the staff at Shenandoah Podiatry. We will perform a full evaluation of your foot to rule out other potential problems, then determine a plan of treatment that can be custom-tailored to your specific foot characteristics and needs. Schedule an appointment with our Roanoke office by calling (540) 904-1458.