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Martin Foot & Ankle

Metatarsalgia

There are plenty of things in life that keep us on our toes. This is normally no big deal, but the day-to-day matters and running around in life can become harder to handle when you suffer from ball-of-foot pain. Metatarsalgia is the general term for pain and inflammation that can occur just beneath the base of the toes. Treating the discomfort involves finding the reason for the trouble.

Meet Your Metatarsals

The metatarsals are five long bones that link the base of each toe to the rest of the foot. These bones can absorb a lot of force, and certain factors can make the front of the foot subject to injury and pain.

Ball of Foot PainMetatarsalgia itself is frequently considered a symptom of another problem and not a condition in and of itself. It is frequently seen in runners and athletes in other impact sports, but other factors can also contribute to harmful weight and pressure on the forefoot. These include:

  • Foot Shape Abnormalities – Having high arches can place extra downward force on the ball of the foot. Many people also have a second toe that is longer than its neighbors, which can lead to additional force concentrating on the second metatarsal head, specifically.
  • Poorly Fitting Shoes – High heels have a design that can shift additional weight to the front of the foot. Having a narrow toe box or a lack of cushioning support can also place undue stress on the area.
  • Foot Deformities – Conditions such as hammertoe, claw toe, or other deformities can cause an imbalance in weight distribution on the foot.
  • Excess Weight – Being overweight can place additional force on the ball of the foot while walking, which can sometimes be enough to cause metatarsalgia all on its own.

The abuse the ball of the foot receives can lead to conditions such as stress fractures along the metatarsals or connecting bones, leading to pain and swelling. It is also possible that Morton’s neuroma, a benign growth of tissue around a nerve due to stress, can be causing the discomfort. This typically occurs between the third and fourth toes. There are still other specific reasons metatarsalgia might be experienced.

Metatarsalgia can feel like a sharp, shooting, or aching pain in the ball of the foot. It can worsen as you move and improve with rest. Sometimes it might also feel like you are walking on a small stone in your shoe, or that your toes are tingling. Sometimes feet just hurt after a long day and naturally get better. If your symptoms last for more than a few days, however, it’s time to consult the doctors at Martin Foot and Ankle.

Solving the Metatarsalgia Mystery

Fighting ball-of-foot pain means first knowing the enemy. We will conduct a thorough examination of your foot and likely ask questions about your lifestyle as well. How active are you? What kinds of shoes do you wear? When do you most often feel the pain? If necessary, we might take an X-ray to check for stress fractures or other abnormalities.

Conservative measures such as custom-made orthotics, better fitting shoes, lifestyle changes, or just plain rest and ice can take care of metatarsalgia. There are rare cases, however, when these measures won’t help and surgery to correct a deformity or misalignment might become a consideration. We will be sure to fully explain all of your options with you to make the best decision.

Don’t let your ball-of-foot pain throw you off your routines. Contact Martin Foot and Ankle at (717) 757-3537. Our offices in Hanover, Lancaster, Lititz, and York are ready to serve you.
Dr. Bradley B. Boyer
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