Metatarsalgia is a term for the condition that involves pain which occurs in the front section of the foot and is sometimes described as a burning or aching sensation. The pain often occurs in the area where the second, third and fourth toes meet the ball of the foot. The patients who suffer from Metatarsalgia, the ball of their foot becomes painful and inflamed, usually due to wearing ill-fitting shoes. The pain can range from mild to severe and often gets worse when you stand or do certain activities.
Sometimes symptoms develop suddenly, especially if a person has recently increased the time or intensity of the high-impact exercise. However, most of the problems usually develop over time. The most common symptoms of Metatarsalgia include:
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of the foot;
- Pain that worsens when the person stands, runs, flexes the feet or walks, especially if the person is barefoot on a hard surface;
- Sharp or shooting pain, numbness or tingling in the toes;
- A feeling of having a pebble in the shoe.
Metatarsalgia usually occurs as a result of a wide variety of reasons and factors caused by an increased pressure on certain areas. Some common causes include:
- Wearing badly fitting footwear that deform the foot;
- Being overweight or obese, which increases the pressure on the foot;
- Bone structure of the foot. More precisely, narrow, high-arched or flat feet;
- High-intensity sports that put extra pressure on the foot;
- Stress fractures in the foot;
- Morton's neuroma, which is a non-cancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve and occurs between the third and fourth metatarsal heads.
Almost anyone can develop Metatarsalgia, but a person may be at higher risk if they:
- Participate in high-impact sports;
- Wear high heels or shoes that do not fit properly;
- Are overweight;
- Have other foot problems, such as high foot arches, a long second toe, unusually long metatarsals or hammertoe;
- Having rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
If Metatarsalgia is left untreated, it may lead to pain in other parts of the same or opposite foot or pain elsewhere in the body, such as the low back or hip, due to limping from foot pain.
In order to protect the feet and prevent development of Metatarsalgia, each person should:
- Choose the right shoes;
- Consider cushioned insoles or arch supports;
- Maintain a healthy weight.