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Metatarsalgia: Straining the Ball of the Foot

How comfortable is it to walk around with a rock in your shoe? It doesn’t have to be large to hurt—just a tiny pebble can be enough to make your foot deeply uncomfortable. Most people couldn’t walk far before they’d start to limp. Usually you try to shake the stone out before you get to that point. If the sensation doesn’t come from an actual rock, however, but from inflammation in your foot from metatarsalgia, you’ll need to do more than shake out your shoes for relief.

Not a Rock

metatarsalgia testimonialYou have five long, thin bones that attach to your toes at the ball of the foot. These are your metatarsals. They help make up your forefoot and absorb a lot of force whenever you push off the ground to take a step. Metatarsalgia is the painful inflammation of the metatarsal heads. They become irritated and uncomfortable from repeated hard impacts or excessive pressure for extended periods of time, so overuse and bad shoes are common culprits. This condition is actually a descriptive symptom of various ball of the foot injuries, like sesamoiditis, capsulitis, neuromasarthritisstress fractures, and others. The damage from these problems usually leads to the overuse and inflammation of the ball of the foot.

The symptoms largely depend on the underlying source of the metatarsalgia. Since it is generally related to overuse, your foot feels worse as you stand and walk around, then improves as you rest. The pain can be either directly under your big toe, or under any or all of the smaller ones. Typically you feel a sharp aching or burning pain. Sometimes it feels like you are walking on a stone or a bruise, though bruising may or may not be visible. Occasionally you may have shooting or tingling sensations in your toes. Because this is an overuse problem, you will need targeted intervention to relieve the pain.

Relieving the Foot of Metatarsalgia

Fortunately, conservative care is very effective for remedying the irritation. Dr. Noah Levine will evaluate your lower limbs thoroughly to determine what the underlying source of the problem is and how to best resolve your discomfort. They may use different diagnostic images to check for stress fractures or other damage to the tissues. Once they have a clearer picture of what causes your metatarsalgia, they can help you resolve it.

You will need to reduce the irritation in the ball of the foot to relieve your pain. Rest is one of the most important and effective steps. Since overuse makes the problem worse, take a break from your activities and minimize the stress on your lower limbs. Icing the affected area to decrease inflammation and discourage swelling is also important. You may need to change your shoes to footwear with more cushioning or support, or use orthotics. You should avoid tight, narrow shoes that squeeze the foot, or those like high heels that force your body weight forward. Physical therapy can help stretch out any tight connective tissues and build strength in your feet, so your lower limbs are more stable. Any biomechanical problems or tissue damage will also need to be addressed, or the problem will return when you go back to your activities.

If you’re struggling with pain in the balls of your feet, you may have developed metatarsalgia. This condition will continue to get worse, if you choose to ignore it, until you have trouble walking. Rather than giving up your activities entirely for your uncomfortable feet, contact the experts at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas to help you take care of it. Fill out the online contact form or call (702) 839-2010 to reach us for an appointment or more information.