What Is Metatarsalgia?

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If you’ve been diagnosed with metatarsalgia by your doctor, you probably have a lot of questions.

At Applied Biomechanics, it’s our goal to make sure you’re informed about your foot or leg problems so that you can make the right decisions about your treatment.

What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a general term that refers to any pain in the general area of the metatarsal heads, also more commonly known as the “ball of the foot” or “forefoot.”

Some of the specific diagnoses which fall under this catch-all term include, but are not limited to:

  • Morton’s Neuroma — An inflammation in the cover of the interdigital nerve.
  • Morton’s Toe — A short first metatarsal, which leads to increased pressure under the second metatarsal head.
  • Capsulitis — An inflammation to the joint capsule of a toe.
  • A stress fracture to a metatarsal head.
  • A plantar plate tear.
  • And more.

What are some common symptoms of metatarsalgia?

The common symptoms of metatarsalgia will typically include a sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of the foot. This pain will worsens with increased activity, such as walking on hard surfaces barefoot and also worsens in tight shoes. 

The condition may result in a sensation of tingling, pins and needles, or numbness in your toes. You may feel as if there is a pebble in your shoe or like your sock feels creased. All of these sensations can be symptoms of metatarsalgia.

What causes metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia has a variety of causes, depending on the specific type of metatarsalgia that you are experiencing. In general, foot alignment and foot mechanics play a large role. Calf tightness or excess weight may increase pressure on the ball of the foot or forefoot and make any minor alignment issues a bigger problem.

A few other factors that can contribute to causing metatarsalgia are poorly fitting shoes or improper shoes for activity; underlying health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes; failed surgical intervention or some other trauma.

What are some treatments for metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia normally responds well to conservative treatment, and surgery should be used only as a last resort when all conservative treatments have failed. Conservative treatment options include, but are not limited to, proper fitting footwear, over the counter insoles, custom made orthotics, footwear modifications, and stretching exercises.

Our team at Applied Biomechanics can help you determine which of these solutions is most appropriate. Contact us today!

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