What is Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a general name given to pain in the front part of your foot under the heads of your metatarsal bones. This is the area on the sole of your foot, just before your toes. It is sometimes called the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different conditions affecting the foot. It is really a symptom of other problems rather than a specific disease itself.
Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different conditions. Common causes include:
Metatarsalgia causes pain in the ball of your foot that can be made worse by standing, walking or running. Some people describe the pain as feeling like they are walking on pebbles. Others describe more of a general aching pain. The pain can occur in one or both feet. In some people the pain is felt under one or two metatarsal heads; in others it is felt under all of them.
Metatarsalgia usually comes on gradually over some weeks rather than suddenly. The affected area of your foot may also feel tender when you (or your doctor) press on it.
In evaluating your injury, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. X-rays or other advanced imaging studies may be ordered to help determine the severity of the injury.
If you have metatarsalgia, our foot and ankle doctor at Peoria AZ Foot and Ankle Specialists will try to establish the cause for the pain. They may be able to identify the cause just by listening to you, asking you questions and examining your foot. However, they may also suggest one or more of the following investigations:
- Blood tests. These can check for diabetes, arthritis and gout.
- X-ray of your foot. This can show a problem with the bones or joints in your foot.
- Bone scan of your foot. Your doctor may suggest this if they suspect a stress fracture of one of your metatarsal bones.
- An ultrasound scan. Can be used to detect Morton’s neuroma.
- Other tests. Occasionally more detailed tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your foot, are needed.
Simple measures can help to relieve the symptoms of metatarsalgia. These include:
- Resting with your feet elevated where possible.
- Losing weight if you are overweight.
- Wearing shoes that are well fitted, low-heeled and have a wide toe area.
- Metatarsal pads and orthotic inserts for your shoes may help to relieve pain in your foot by reducing the pressure placed on the heads of your metatarsal bones.
- Physiotherapy may also be helpful. This may include exercises to help a stiff ankle or exercises to help stretch your Achilles tendon if these are problems for you.
Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may help to relieve pain. [/list_item]
Other treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your metatarsalgia. For example, if diabetes is the cause, you may need better control of your diabetes. If gout or arthritis is the cause, you may need treatment for these conditions. Surgery is sometimes needed to treat metatarsalgia if other treatments have failed. This will depend on the underlying cause – for example, straightening of hammer or claw toes or surgery for Morton’s neuroma.