Metatarsalgia is a common foot condition that affects the ball of the foot, typically in the area where the toes meet the rest of the foot. It is characterized by pain, inflammation, and swelling, which can cause difficulty walking and performing daily activities. Consulting with an experienced Texas podiatrist can help determine the best treatment options for metatarsalgia and determine if surgery is needed to treat the underlying cause of this condition.
People who develop metatarsalgia often describe the pain as if there’s a rock under the ball of their foot. This pain is particularly noticeable when they push off the foot as they walk or when they put weight on the foot. Some describe the pain as a severe bruise. Metatarsalgia may not be a serious condition, but it can be frustrating and limit your daily activities.
Common Causes of Metatarsalgia
- Overuse and repetitive stress. Metatarsalgia can occur in athletes who engage in activities that involve running, jumping, or other high-impact, repetitive movements.
- Poor footwear. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose or lack support or padding can lead to metatarsalgia. In addition, wearing shoes that have high heels can lead to the condition since they cause weight to shift and move forward onto the ball of the foot.
- Foot shape and abnormalities. Specific foot shapes, such as having a high arch or a second toe longer than the big toe, can contribute to metatarsalgia. Also, having a foot problem such as hammer toes, bunions, or calluses can cause this condition. Additionally, abnormalities in gait can put excess pressure on the ball of the foot and cause pain.
- Aging. As people age, the padding on the bottom of the feet naturally thins out, which can lead to metatarsalgia.
- Weight. Being overweight can add more pressure on your feet and cause metatarsalgia.
- Medical condition. Having a medical condition such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can put you at a higher risk for metatarsalgia.
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
- Numbness or tingling in the toes or ball of the foot
- Difficulty walking or putting weight on the affected foot
- Pain that worsens with activity or when standing or walking for extended periods of time
- Sensation that you are stepping on a stone
- Inflammation in the ball of the foot
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
If you experience persistent pain or discomfort in the ball of your foot, it is essential to consult with an experienced podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment options. To diagnose the condition, a podiatrist will perform a physical exam that may involve checking for tenderness or swelling in the affected area, assessing the foot's alignment and structure, and performing various movement tests to evaluate the condition's severity. Imaging tests such as X-rays, an MRI, or an ultrasound may also be ordered to rule out other foot conditions and confirm the diagnosis.
- Resting the foot
- Applying ice to the foot throughout the day
- Using a compression bandage
- Elevating the affected foot
- Wearing comfortable and supportive footwear
- Using custom orthotics or arch supports
- Stretching the foot and performing strengthening exercises
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. If conservative measures fail to provide relief, a podiatrist may suggest more advanced treatment options, such as corticosteroid injections or surgery.
Metatarsalgia surgery may be recommended when other treatments have been unsuccessful. It is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making small incisions in the foot and using specialized tools to remove the inflamed tissue or realign any foot abnormalities that may be causing the condition. The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and patients can generally resume normal activities within a few weeks of the procedure.
The most common types of metatarsalgia surgery involve bone or ligament realignment, which aims to redistribute the weight placed on the ball of the foot to an area that can better withstand pressure. Other procedures may be performed that involve removing or repairing bones, tendons, or ligaments that have been damaged or are contributing to the pain. While metatarsalgia surgery can be effective in relieving pain and improving foot function, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits with your podiatrist before deciding to undergo the procedure.
Metatarsalgia Surgery Risks
- Nerve damage
- Postoperative swelling
- Blood clots
- Slow healing
After metatarsalgia surgery, you will typically require several weeks of rest and rehabilitation. You may need to limit your activity to prevent additional damage to the foot. Some patients may be in a boot or cast for several weeks following surgery and may need to use crutches to keep weight off the foot. In addition, your podiatrist may also recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected foot.
Metatarsalgia Prevention Tips
If you’ve been diagnosed with and treated for metatarsalgia, it’s important to take good care of your feet to help manage and avoid a future recurrence of the condition.
How to Avoid Developing Painful Metatarsalgia
- Wear shoes that fit correctly and are not too tight or too loose
- Replace shoes if they are worn out
- Avoid shoes that have high heels or a narrow toe box
- Use custom orthotics in your shoes
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Always warm up properly before exercising
Finally, it is vital to consult with a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem or if you notice symptoms of metatarsalgia.
Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for Your Foot and Ankle Health
If you have pain in your feet or ankles, it can negatively impact your life and interfere with your daily routine. You need a compassionate, skilled podiatrist to work with you to determine the cause and provide treatment based on your specific needs. With 30 years of experience, the podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists understand the relationship between your feet and your overall health. Whether your condition requires therapy, orthotics, or surgery, we offer leading-edge medical care to address your unique situation.
We offer patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area safe, effective, and affordable treatment plans. If you’re struggling with a foot or an ankle problem, call us today at 817-481-4000, or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.