How Do You Treat Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a common condition that can cause a great deal of pain if left untreated. This article will help you understand how metatarsalgia develops and what you can do to treat it. 

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia often results from overuse and strain of the metatarsal bones, which are the bones in the ball of the foot. This strain leads to pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot and can interfere with your ability to walk around normally.

Since metatarsalgia is associated with overuse, frequent high-impact activities like running, jumping, or high-intensity sports often contribute to its development. Athletes in sports like tennis, football, and soccer are most likely to develop metatarsalgia because of the constant pressure on their metatarsal bones.

Other factors can also contribute to the development of metatarsalgia:

  •       Foot structural abnormalities (like high arches, a longer second toe, or hammertoe deformity)
  •       Excessive pronation (foot moves side-to-side too much when walking)
  •       Tight Achilles tendon
  •       Being overweight
  •       Wearing ill-fitting or high-heeled shoes
  •       Conditions that lead to joint inflammation, including osteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, and stress fractures in the toes and metatarsals

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia primarily causes pain in the metatarsal bones which make up the ball of the foot at the base of the toes. The pain usually develops gradually over a period of months, rather than occurring as a sudden onset.

Other common symptoms of metatarsalgia include

  •       Burning in the ball of the foot
  •       Numb or tingling toes
  •       Aching or shooting pain in the ball of the foot
  •       Worse pain when active or walking barefoot

Diagnosing Metatarsalgia

Doctors often use several different methods to diagnose metatarsalgia:

  •       Physical examination: A doctor will examine the injured foot to determine the source and nature of pain
  •       An X-ray to rule out other bone-related causes
  •       An ultrasound to look for other inflammatory conditions like bursitis or neuromas
  •       An MRI to search for signs of arthritis or other injuries or conditions that may be contributing to your pain

Treating Metatarsalgia

Conservative, at-home treatments can usually treat metatarsalgia and relieve pain. Here are some of the top recommended treatments:

  •       Rest and stay off the injured foot.
  •       Regularly ice the injured foot to relieve inflammation.
  •       Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers.
  •       Use orthotics in your shoes to give your feet added support.
  •       Avoid high-impact sports or exercise.
  •       Elevate your foot to relieve inflammation.

In some cases, a doctor may recommend physical therapy exercises to help stretch and strengthen the injured metatarsals and to improve range of motion.

In the most severe cases, surgical realignment of the metatarsal bones may be necessary to relieve pain. An orthopedic specialist will determine which course of treatment is necessary depending on the extent of your injury and pain.

If left untreated, you may experience changes to your gait, which could lead to eventual hip, back, and leg pain.

Relieving Metatarsalgia Pain with Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants

Pain from metatarsalgia can hold you back from doing what you love. The orthopedic specialists at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants understand how frustrating foot pain can be. They are prepared with some of the most innovative treatments to get you back to feeling like yourself again.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of metatarsalgia, book an appointment with us today to get your pain under control.

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.