Metatarsalgia 101: All The Basics You Need To Know

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Metatarsalgia is a foot condition that can cause a lot of pain. If you are suffering from metatarsalgia, then you know how frustrating it can be. In this article, we will discuss all the basics you need to know about metatarsalgia. We will cover what causes the condition, how to treat it, and ways to prevent it from happening again. Metatarsalgia can be a debilitating condition, but with the right information and treatment, you can get relief from the pain!

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the metatarsal region of your foot–the area just behind your toes. It can be caused by any number of things, including ill-fitting shoes, injury, or even arthritis. Metatarsalgia is a common condition, but one that can be extremely painful and debilitating if left untreated.

Types of Metatarsalgia

There are a few different types of metatarsalgia, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options.

  • Ball-of-Foot Pain

The most common type is called “ball-of-foot pain”, which is characterized by a dull ache or sharp pain in the ball of your foot. This type of metatarsalgia is often caused by wearing high heels or other tight shoes that put pressure on the metatarsal region. Treatment for ball-of-foot pain usually involves rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.

  • Morton’s Neuroma

Another type of metatarsalgia is “Morton’s neuroma”, which is a condition that results from the inflammation of the nerves in the ball of your foot. Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include sharp pain, numbness, or tingling in the toes. This type of metatarsalgia is often caused by wearing tight shoes or high heels. Treatment for Morton’s neuroma typically involves rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.

  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint Dysfunction

A condition that results from the inflammation of the joints in the ball of your foot. Symptoms of MTPJ dysfunction include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. This type of metatarsalgia is often caused by injury or arthritis. Treatment for MTPJ dysfunction typically involves rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

Many different things can cause metatarsalgia. One of the most common causes is wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can put undue pressure on the metatarsal region, which can lead to pain and inflammation. Other common causes include injury, arthritis, and even bunions.

Who is affected by metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia can affect anyone but is most common in women over the age of 40. This is likely due to the increased likelihood of developing conditions like bunions and hammertoes as we age. Metatarsalgia is also more common in people who participate in activities that put a lot of stress on their feet, such as running or dancing.

How do I know if I have metatarsalgia?

If you are experiencing pain and inflammation in the metatarsal region of your foot, then you may have metatarsalgia. The best way to confirm a diagnosis is to see a doctor or podiatrist for an evaluation. They will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and may order X-rays or other imaging tests to rule out other conditions.

Can metatarsalgia be prevented?

There are several things you can do to prevent metatarsalgia from happening in the first place. First, make sure you are wearing shoes that fit properly. This means getting your feet measured regularly and making sure you have enough room in your shoes–you should be able to wiggle your toes without feeling cramped. Second, avoid high heels if possible. High heels can put a lot of pressure on the metatarsal region and can make metatarsalgia worse. Third, take care of any foot conditions you have. If you have bunions or hammertoes, for example, see a doctor and get them treated. 

Metatarsalgia is a condition that can be painful and debilitating, but with the right information and treatment, you can get relief from the pain.

  • Don’t wear shoes that are too tight
  • Avoid high heels whenever possible
  • Take care of your feet if you have any existing conditions
  • Wear shoes that fit properly

What is the best treatment for metatarsalgia?

Treatment for metatarsalgia will vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition. If it is caused by ill-fitting shoes, then you will need to find a pair of shoes that fit better. This may require some trial and error, but once you find a pair of shoes that fits well and does not put pressure on the metatarsal region, your pain should start to improve. If your metatarsalgia is caused by an injury or arthritis, then you may need to see a doctor for further treatment. This could include medication, physical therapy, or even surgery in severe cases.

  • Treatment with a Prescription

Start by eliminating activities that require a lot of walking and concentrate on sports that do not require a lot of footwork (cycling and swimming). Then start thinking about pedicure maintenance and wearing orthopedic shoes. Rehabilitation may be able to provide better long-term relief from uncomfortable symptoms. Inflammation can be controlled using pain medications, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories. It is critical to losing a significant amount of weight.

  • More conservative treatment

The type of treatment applied depends on the source of metatarsalgia and is sufficient to manage the painful symptoms. Short gastrocnemius syndrome and musculotendinous imbalances are primarily treated with physiotherapy.

  • Surgical Procedures

A technique of surgery will focus on achieving a more pleasant distribution of body weight on the forefoot. This balance aims to replicate the lengths of the metatarsals as well as their ground support. There are two surgical approaches, and the procedure will be determined by which foot is operated on:

  • Minimally invasive osteotomy (breakage)
  • Weil’s osteotomy

Remember, The 3 Arches of Your Feet Still Need Support!

Maybe you have already felt the first symptoms of balance disorders or you want to prevent them from appearing in the first place. Consider getting a foot orthotic device or simply take care of your feet. Start by washing them thoroughly with a gentle soap whenever you take a shower. Being a very complex support system, your feet are your first line of defense against balance-related issues, since their arches provide you with the stability you need in your daily life. It’s time to put your foot down and push back against balance issues. With both feet on the ground, dedicate yourself to keeping them comfortable and healthy. Give us a call and we will scan your feet to make you custom orthotic inserts.

The Shoe Doctor has specialized in providing custom orthotics for 20 years. The right orthotic insoles can greatly reduce foot, knee, and hip pain while increasing performance and comfort. Russell at The Shoe Doctor will help educate and assist you in finding the perfect solution for your particular situation. We will create a 3D map of your feet and make custom orthotics for your hiking boots, everyday shoes, and everything else in between. These orthotics, along with our expert advice, will get you using orthotics like a pro, and have you performing at the peak of your abilities in no time!  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, give The Shoe Doctor a call to get the best custom orthotics in the area! We are here to assist you, schedule your free consultation here!


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Russell Pate

Russell has been a Certified Pedorthist for over 28 years.

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