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Definition

What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia, which is also known as stone bruise, is a disease in which the ball of your foot is painful and inflamed. You might experience it if you participate in activities that relates to running and jumping. There are several other causes as well, including foot deformities and shoes that are too tight or too loose.

Though generally this condition is not serious, metatarsalgia can sideline you. Fortunately, at-home treatments, such as ice and rest, often relieve symptoms. Wearing proper footwear with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports might prevent or minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.

How common is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia can affect both males and females of all ages, but is most common in middle aged females. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of metatarsalgia?

The common symptoms of metatarsalgia are:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes
  • Pain that worsens when you stand, run, flex your feet or walk — especially barefoot on a hard surface — and improves when you rest
  • Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
  • A feeling of having a pebble in your shoe
  • There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes metatarsalgia?

There are a great number of causes can engender metatarsalgia. Some common causes include:

Intense training or activity

Distance runners are at risk of metatarsalgia, primarily because the front of the foot absorbs significant force when a person runs. But anyone who participates in a high-impact sport is at risk, especially if your shoes fit poorly or are worn.

Certain foot shapes

A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals. So can having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe, which causes more weight than normal to be shifted to the second metatarsal head.

Foot deformities

Wearing too-small shoes or high heels can cause your foot to be misshapen. A downward-curling toe (hammertoe) and swollen, painful bumps at the base of your big toes (bunions) can cause metatarsalgia.

Excess weight.

Because most of your body weight transfers to your forefoot when you move, extra pounds mean more pressure on your metatarsals. Losing weight might reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Poorly fitting shoes

High heels, which transfer extra weight to the front of your foot, are a common cause of metatarsalgia in women. Shoes with a narrow toe box or athletic shoes that lack support and padding also can contribute to the problem.

Stress fractures

Small breaks in the metatarsals or toe bones can be painful and change the way you put weight on your foot.

Morton’s neuroma

This noncancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve usually occurs between the third and fourth metatarsal heads. It causes symptoms that are similar to metatarsalgia and can also contribute to metatarsal stress.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for metatarsalgia?

There are many risk factors for metatarsalgia, such as:

  • Participate in high-impact sports that involve running and jumping
  • Wear high heels, shoes that don’t fit properly or shoes with spikes, such as cleats
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have other foot problems, including hammertoe and calluses on the bottom of your feet
  • Have inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout

Diagnosis & treatment

How is metatarsalgia diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Various foot problems can cause symptoms similar to those of metatarsalgia; therefore, to help pinpoint the source of your pain, your doctor must examine your foot carefully including many positions such as while you stand and while you sit and ask about your lifestyle and activity level. You might need an X-ray to identify or rule out a stress fracture or other foot problems.

How is metatarsalgia treated?

Conservative measures, such as resting, changing shoes or using a metatarsal pad, might be all you need to relieve signs and symptoms.

However, in rare cases, when conservative measures don’t relieve your pain and your metatarsalgia is complicated by foot conditions such as hammertoe, surgery to realign the metatarsal bones might be an option.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage metatarsalgia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with metatarsalgia:

Proper footwear

Avoid high heels and shoes that are too tight. A shoe should also provide adequate support and cushioning. A wide toe-box is better.

Arch supports or cushioned insoles

They help prevent pain of metatarsalgia. If pain develops they can help relieve it.

Bodyweight

Remember that slim people have a significantly lower risk of developing metatarsalgia. Try to maintain a healthy bodyweight.

Recovery time

People who are recovering from injuries should make sure they comply with doctor’s recommendations regarding when to resume strenuous activity.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 23, 2017 | Last Modified: August 23, 2017

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