You may have heard about plantar fasciitis, and there are many products being promoted to help relieve this condition such as heel cusion, support pad, and arch sleeve, etc. But you may not hear about metatarsalgia which means the front part of the bottom of your foot is painful, it is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed.
Metatarsalgia may be felt in a small area of the foot, or across the whole width of it. One or both feet may be affected. Symptoms can include:
- Sharp, aching, or burning pain in the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes
- Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
- A feeling of having a pebble or a small stone in your shoe stuck under the foot
Metatarsalgia tends to be worse when you’re standing, walking or running, especially barefoot on a hard surface.
Metatarsalgia is usually the result of increased pressure on the ball of the foot. Common causes include:
- badly fitting footwear – high-heeled or restrictive shoes can force the ball of the foot into a small amount of space, which puts more pressure on that area
- high-impact sports – sports like running or tennis put extra pressure on the feet
- excess weight – this can also increase the pressure on the feet
- an unusual bone structure in the feet – having narrow, high-arched or flat feet can increase the chances of metatarsalgia
- joint and foot conditions – including arthritis, gout, bunions, bursitis, Morton’s neuroma, hammer toes,and stress fractures
Metatarsalgia is also more common in older people and people with diabetes.
Treating and preventing metatarsalgia
The following measures will often help improve metatarsalgia and stop it coming back:
- rest your feet – put your feet up regularly and avoid activities that make the pain worse; try low-impact activities such as cycling or swimming instead of sports that involve a lot of running or jumping
- use an ice pack – apply an ice pack to the affected area for about 20 minutes several times a day (a bag of frozen peas will also work); make sure you wrap it in a towel so it doesn’t damage your skin
- change your footwear – try flat shoes that have plenty of room for your feet and have a well-cushioned sole; replace any worn out shoes as they could make things worse (read more about choosing sports shoes and trainers)
- use shock-absorbing pads or insoles – these can fit inside your shoes to help cushion your feet; they’re available from pharmacies and sports shops, or can be bought online
- maintain a healthy weight – adopting a healthy, balanced diet and doing regular low-impact exercises can help you lose weight if you’re overweight
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve pain and swelling if necessary
Lately, Ella has successfully treated a patient with metatarsalgia and calf muscle tightness and tenderness. If the treating measures do not work for you, please feel free to contact us for an appointment.