Metatarsalgia: Recurring Pain in Ball of Foot
A Look Inside
It helps to know the structure of your foot when trying to understand how pain can arise and where it may be located. You have 26 bones in each foot and the long ones that connect the arch of your foot to your toe bones are called the metatarsals. The ball of your foot is where the metatarsal heads meet the toe bones—this is a common area for foot pain to develop. If the tissue around the joints or at the heads of the metatarsal bones become inflamed, a condition called metatarsalgia (literally meaning metatarsal pain) can develop.
Causes of Metatarsalgia
Metatarsalgia is the term used for inflammation surrounding the metatarsal heads in the ball of the foot and there are many causes and risk factors for this injury. Repeated stress on the area is the most common cause. This can be from sports that involve a lot of running, jumping, and dancing, or jobs that require climbing ladders or bending a lot (such as carpenters, carpet layers and construction workers).
The irritation and inflammation to the metatarsal heads and the joints can also be caused by hammertoes, a long second toe, a longer or deviated metatarsal bone, or high arches. These biomechanical differences can alter how the foot functions and how it distributes weight. Too much weight and pressure on the ball of the foot and you could be left with a chronic, sore, and aching foot.
Dr. Silver is one of the top foot specialists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area for the treatment of foot pain. Since pain in the ball of your foot may be something other than metatarsalgia (other causes may include a pinched nerve, stress fracture, or foreign body), it is essential to have this problem properly diagnosed to get you on the right course of treatment immediately. Digital X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound, and gait analysis performed in our clinic can help to assess your foot problem more accurately.
When this problem first starts, ice, elevation, rest, change of shoes and anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen or Naprosin can help with initial pain and/or swelling. For many patients, treatment will involve resting the area with a special rocker bottom trauma shoe to prevent bending off your toes. Eliminating any excess pressure will give the affected area time to heal by the use of special gel pads, toe splints, or foot taping with a metatarsal pad. We may recommend a change in shoe type or style to ensure that your feet have enough support and stabilization. If necessary, our medical assistants can measure and fit you with the proper shoes from our full line of Dr. Comfort Shoes available through our clinic. Custom foot orthotics are necessary to cushion or “off-load” the painful areas when the problem stems from a weak or imbalanced foot structure.
Metatarsalgia can easily be treated, so don’t spend one more day at home hobbling with pain in the ball of your foot. Walking around when you are uncomfortable or sitting on the sidelines when you love sports is not the way you need to spend your time. Call (763) 231-2341 or click here now for an appointment with Dr. Silver at the Westwood Foot Clinic in Golden Valley, MN. Same or next day appointments are often available!