Metatarsals are the joints and bones of the ball of the foot – the area just before the toes. Metatarsalgia is a disorder that arises due to inflammation of the nerve that runs between these metatarsals. Most patients experience pain in the second, third and fourth metatarsal heads, but there are some cases of pain the big toe’s metatarsal heads. Metatarsalgia is not a very serious foot condition, but it can significantly affect foot movement. This condition affects men and women equally, however, more middle aged women are found to suffer from this problem.
Causes of Metatarsalgia: Ball of foot pain:
Improper footwear – high heeled shoes, narrow shoes.
Overweight – increase the pressure on the foot.
Aging – The fat pads on the metatarsals thin out with age.
Stress fractures of the metatarsal.
Extensive standing and walking- soldiers, postman and dancer.
High-impact sports or activities – running, tennis.
Medical causes of Metatarsalgia: Ball of foot pain:
Arthritis, gout or inflammation (swelling) of the joints in the foot.
Signs and symptoms of Metatarsalgia: Ball of foot pain:
Localized dull ache, sharp or burning pain in the ball of the foot.
Tingling sensation, swelling and numbness in toes.
Visible lesions, callous around the second, third or fourth toe.
Sharp pain worsen when standing, walking or running and eases down with rest.
Extreme pain while walking barefoot.
Metatarsalgia can disrupt your day to day activities, and when left untreated can lead to additional pain in your unaffected foot, back or hips. A simple change of footwear, rest, apply ice on the affected area may solve the problem. An experienced podiatrist may prescribe specially designed custom orthotics to alleviate the pain and prevent excessive pronation. Orthotics can improve the function of the foot and redistribute pressure to protect the ball of the foot.