What is Metatarsalgia?

The ball of the foot is a common area of pain and discomfort. Those who run or exercise often experience this often-intense type of pain, known as metatarsalgia. Runners are at the greatest risk for developing this condition, however, anyone can experience the symptoms associated with it. Luckily, many treatments may manage symptoms, including cold packs, pain relievers, and supportive footwear. Read more about metatarsalgia and its most commonly used treatment methods:

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a disease that's caused by wearing shoes that are too small, wearing them in a way they weren't meant to be worn, or through repetitive stress. This can cause pain and discomfort in the foot's metatarsals, which are four bones in our feet. They're at the ball of the foot between your toes and your heel bone; when one's experiencing this kind of discomfort, it's likely because of how much pressure is being directed at one of these metatarsals, or possibly because of bunions on top of those bones making it hard for one to wear shoes comfortably.

Runners who suffer from this condition often have high arches and wide feet, traits that are prone to pronation. These characteristics, combined with the stresses put on feet after hours of running, can lead to metatarsalgia, making it vital that runners keep their shoes in good condition as well avoiding shoes with poor arch support. Regular runners need to take preventative measures so that metatarsalgia does not get to them in the future.

Metatarsalgia Causes & Risk Factors

Here are what causes pain and metatarsalgia symptoms; including risk factors:

Existing Foot Conditions:

  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout
  • High arches
  • Having prominent or large metatarsal heads
  • Having a second toe longer than your big toe
  • Hammertoe
  • Tight or weak muscles in the toes or mid-foot
  • Stress fractures in the foot from overuse or injury
  • Large calluses
  • Morton's neuroma
  • Excessive pronation
  • Bunions

Lifestyle Habits:

  • Carrying extra weight or obesity which can create forefoot pain.
  • A high level of physical activity is great for physical fitness, but not everyone should do high-impact sports like running and jumping.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

The main metatarsalgia symptom is pain at the bases of your innermost four toes. This may agonize and feel like:

  • Improve with rest
  • Be sharp, aching, or burning
  • Come on over months
  • Get worse when running or walking
  • Other symptoms that accompany metatarsal pain include:
  • Numbness in the feet
  • The feeling that there is a pebble in your shoe
  • Tingling in the feet or toes

Tips on Recovering From Foot Pain

Foot pain is tricky since people have to spend time on their feet nearly every day. However, getting up and moving around is important for both daily activities and staying fit. The following guidelines can help you deal with your foot issues until the pain clears up or becomes more manageable.

After a long day at work or spending time on your feet, try some forms of relaxation, such as cold therapy packs and herbal heating pads.

Consider scheduling physical therapy for a comprehensive home exercise program that addresses foot dysfunction and other similar issues like gait (walking) as well to help with the rehabilitation of your feet.

For the long-term health of your feet, invest in shoes that fit correctly without pinching or extra room, which could lead to sores and skin problems. Make smart choices with getting things like braces, as these can help with any aches and pains you might be experiencing, but only if they're placed in proper locations and used properly!

Metatarsalgia Recovery Time

Can we cure metatarsalgia?

A: Yes, a full recovery from metatarsalgia is possible. Through diligent at-home treatments, the use of foot gizmos like insoles and arch supports, rest, workout modifications as well as appropriate shoes for your feet, you can protect your metatarsal and reduce pain. Although I am always a big proponent of preventative medicine through healthy lifestyles, it's also important to learn how to manage symptoms early on to avert more serious problems from coming up along the way.

Stop Metatarsalgia Pain

While rarely serious, metatarsalgia can stop you dead in your tracks when it comes to running. Fortunately, this type of foot pain usually responds well to treatment and most cases gets better with rest and icing. To prevent the symptoms from coming back, stay off your feet as much as possible and invest in supportive shoes, use pain-relieving metatarsal pads, and exercises to strengthen your joints such as stretching or even trying a physical therapy session. If you're getting frustrated by how long the recovery is taking, remember that sometimes it takes time for a problem area to heal, so don't give up too soon.


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