Metatarsalgia is a generalized term used to describe pain that has developed in the ball of the foot. It is essentially an irritation of the metatarsal region. Athletes engaged in sports that require sustained running and jumping may be more susceptible because they load the metatarsals with a high force load. Individuals in careers with many hours of walking can also frequently develop this irritation due to increased forefoot loading.

Foot characteristics such as higher more rigid arches along with collapsed metatarsal arches are thought to increase localized pressure to the metatarsals and increase the incidence of this irritation.

  • Condition

    Metatarsalgia is a common foot condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed. Sports and work related activities that involve prolonged walking, running and jumping may increase your risk. There are other causes as well, including foot deformities such as a dropped metatarsal arch and inappropriate footwear.

  • Symptoms & Signs

    • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot
    • Pain that worsens when you stand, run, flex your feet or walk
    • Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes

  • Treatment for Metatarsalgia includes:

    • Change to more comfortable footwear
    • Arch supports to relieve pressure on the ball of the foot
    • Custom Orthotics to reduce pressure to the effected area
    • Metatarsal Pads
    • Activity Modification

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Strenuous activity or ill-fitting shoes are common causes. There can be more defined conditions that fall under this general term but causes are often similar.

  • Intense activities
  • Foot trauma
  • Certain foot types such as high rigid arches arches
  • Foot deformities such as bunions or depressed Metatarsal heads.
  • Arthritis in the metatarsophalangeal joints
  • Fat pad thinning of the protective fat pads that cushion the ball of the foot
  • Excessive weight
  • Improper fitting footwear

Pedorthic Treatment

Treatment for Metatarsalgia often focuses on whether pressure to the metatarsal head or motions of the metatarsophalangeal joint are the primary cause of discomfort. In some cases it may be both.

  • Change to more comfortable proper fitting footwear
  • Rocker sole modifications to footwear
  • Metatarsal pads added to stock insoles to relieve pressure on the ball of the foot
  • When indicated by foot deformity, pain severity and failure of non-custom support, custom orthotics with MT pads to reduce pressure to the effected area.
  • Activity Modifications to reduce stress to the region
  • Increasing flexibility of the ankle to reduce forefoot stress

If you are experiencing metatarsalgia, you should consult your physician for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

Your doctor may refer you to OKAPED to see a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for Pedorthic management of your metatarsalgia. This may include orthopaedic footwear, shoe selection guidance, orthotics and/or foot related products such as a metatarsal pad. If you know your condition and want to learn about new products and treatments please give us a call.

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