Metatarsalgia …Ball of the foot pain
Metatarsalgia is a general term used to denote a painful foot condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (the area just before the toes, more commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot). Metatarsalgia. Sounds like a deadly disease made up by a sci-fi writer in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Actually it’s not made up at all. It is very real to thousands of runners who have experienced the pain in feet that it brings.
Metatarsalgia, or pain from inflammation in the ball of the foot, is caused by overuse and inefficient weight distribution across the metatarsal arch. The causes of metatarsalgia are mainly overuse, repetitive stress, and foot structure issues. Perhaps the single most effective conservative solution to combat metatarsalgia is custom orthotics. Orthotics with metatarsal pads and arch support cushion and support the forefoot maintaining alignment of the metatarsal arch and distributing shock evenly. The best choice is custom orthotics made from a digital scan or plaster mold of the foot. Digital scans are faster and more accurate than plaster casts but either type are better than “off the shelf” models, although relief can be obtained from both. Placement of the metatarsal pad is crucial. Too far forward or back and you won’t be a happy camper. This metatarsal support evenly distributes the impact forces efficiently. Arch support is important because the arch will bear more weight decreasing pressure on the metatarsal heads.
Certain foot shapes: A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals and increase Pes Cavus as this is called causes the metatarsal shaft to angle down toward the ground at an increased angle increasing the pressure on the metatarsal heads.
So can having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe, which causes more weight than normal to be shifted to the second and smaller metatarsal head.
Hammertoe: This foot problem can develop when high heels or too-small shoes prevent your toes from lying flat. As a result, one of your toes — usually the second — curls downward because of a bend in the middle toe joint. This contraction increases pressure on the metatarsal heads causing more.
Bunion: This is a swollen, painful bump at the base of your big toe. Sometimes the tendency to develop bunions is inherited, but the problem can also result from wearing high heels or too-small shoes. Bunions are much more common in women than in men. A bunion can weaken your big toe, putting extra stress on the ball of your foot. Sometimes surgery to correct a bunion can also lead to metatarsalgia.
Believe it or not, your choice of socks can have a lot to do with your level of relief. Try to buy socks with extra cushioning in the forefoot. Look for Coolmax-cotton or cotton- polyester blend. Ice & NSAIDS Icing the area is important to reduce the inflammation often associated with metatarsalgia.
NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory) meds and play an important role in conjunction with the other remedies mentioned above. Metatarsalgia doesn’t have to ruin you training regime. Learn to recognize the symptoms of metatarsalgia and deal with them early on and you won’t miss a step. A pain in the heel!