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Causes and treatment of metatarsalgia

The metatarsals are the five bones that are found in the foot that is located below the toes. Metatarsalgia which is also known as “ball-of-the-foot” is a condition characterized by pain in these areas and common in people playing high-impact sports like basketball or running. If you want to learn more about this condition, read here.

Symptoms of metatarsalgia

  • Experiencing pain when standing up, flexing the feet or walking especially if barefooted on a hard surface and pain is minimized when resting.
  • Sharp, aching or burning pain that can be felt in the ball of the foot which is the part of the sole just behind the toes.
  • Experiencing sharp or shooting pain, numbness and tingling felt in the toes
  • A feeling of having a pebble inside the shoe.
  • A symptom can happen suddenly like increasing the time or intensity of the high-impact exercises like running

Sharp, aching or burning pain that can be felt in the ball of the foot which is the part of the sole just behind the toes.

Causes of metatarsalgia

  • A high arch can put some pressure on the metatarsalgia and a second toe that is longer than the big toe will cause more weight than normal to be lifted to the second metatarsal head.
  • Runners are at a high risk of having metatarsalgia because the front of the foot absorbs the force when running, but anybody participating in high-impact sports is also at risk especially with poorly fitting shoes or are worn out.
  • Wearing small shoes or high heels can cause the foot to be misshapen, hammertoe, bunions and swelling painful bumps found at the base of the big toes can result in metatarsalgia.
  • Being overweight can cause metatarsalgia
  • Wearing poorly fitting shoes like high heels worn by women, shoes with a narrow toe box and athletic shoes with poor padding and support can cause metatarsalgia.
  • Some small breaks in the metatarsals or toe bones can cause pain and cause some changes in the way when putting weight on the foot.
  • Morton’s neuroma which is noncancerous growth of fibrous tissues found around a nerve that happens between the third and fourth metatarsal heads and will cause a metatarsal stress.

An untreated metatarsalgia can cause pain in other parts of the same or the opposite foot and pain will spread elsewhere in the body like the lower back or hip caused by limping from pain in the foot.

Treatment and home remedies

  • Rest the foot from further injury by not having it stressed. Elevating the foot after standing or walking in order to promote healing.
  • Avoid doing high-impact sports for a while but do some light exercises like swimming or cycling.
  • Apply cold compress on the affected areas for about 20 minutes at a time several times a day.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin in order to minimize pain and inflammation.
  • Wear shoes that are properly suited for the foot type and for the particular sports.
  • Put shock-absorbing insoles made of cork, plastic, rubber or a gel-like substance that fits inside the shoes that helps in cushioning shock.
  • Use metatarsal pads that are placed in the shoes just ahead of the metatarsal bone in helping repel stress from the painful areas.

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