Pain in the Ball of the Foot May Be Metatarsalgia

If you have pain in the toes or the ball of your foot, especially when walking barefoot or during exercise, you may have metatarsalgia, a chronic inflammation condition.

Each foot has 5 metatarsal bones that run from the ankle to the toes. Over time, because of repeated impact and pressure, these bones can become stressed and irritated. Metatarsalgia is inflammation of the tendons and ligaments adjacent to these bones as well as the bone covering itself. This condition causes burning and pain and sometimes results in a callus under the affected area due to the excessive pressure on the ball of the foot.

When the foot receives repetitive stress and there is not enough time between activities to let the foot rest and heal, inflammatory metatarsalgia can result. Athletes – amateur, professional or even “weekend warriors” – are at high risk for this injury if their sport is high-impact such as running or jumping.

However, even non-athletes can have painful metatarsalgia due to:

  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Excess weight
  • Certain foot deformities like hammertoe, claw toe or a very high arch
  • Intense weight-bearing activity
  • Toe muscles that are too weak or too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Excessive foot pronation – inward roll – when running or walking
  • Footwear that fits poorly

Home Remedies May Relieve Metatarsalgia Pain

To reduce the inflammation, start with conservative treatment:

  • Rest your foot! Avoid intense activities and sports to allow the area to heal.
  • Apply ice to the affected area several times a day.
  • With your doctor’s permission, take anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Choose supportive footwear that fits well.
  • Reduce your weight if needed to lessen stress on the foot.

If after you’ve tried these home remedies you still have symptoms of metatarsalgia, call Your Next Step for an evaluation. After a careful examination we will take x-rays right in our office to rule out a fracture. Other diagnostic tests can help find the inflamed area. Custom-fitted orthotics or metatarsal lifts will relieve pressure and reduce over-pronation.

We will also discuss stretching and strengthening exercises after the inflammation has subsided so you can gradually resume your exercise program.

Don’t Suffer with the Pain of Metatarsalgia

Without careful treatment, metatarsalgia will not just go away. Contact Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, board certified or qualified podiatrists for relief from the pain and inflammation of this condition. Check the website for all contact information for our Ardmore, Paoli and Downingtown offices. We’ll soon have your feet healthy and ready to go!

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