What is metatarsalgia? This is a common foot condition, affecting the ball of your foot. But what are the causes, symptoms and treatment options? Keep reading to find out!

Metatarsalgia Symptoms pain in ball of foot

Common symptoms of metatarsalgia include pain and inflammation, along with other common warning signs. These include burning, sharp or aching pain in your ball of foot, located just behind the toes. Typically, that pain will worsen when you stand, but improve with rest. Some people describe feeling like there's a pebble stuck in their foot, while others experience numbness, tingling or sharp, shooting pain in the toes.

What is Metatarsalgia: Common Causes

There are several risk factors that could cause this specific type of ball of foot pain. If you work out too hard, especially if you run, you'll increase your risk for metatarsalgia. Why is this such a risk? When you run, you put lots of pressure on the front of your foot, making inflammation more likley to set in. And that risk will rise dramatically if you run in shoes that are worn out or in need of replacement.

Another metatarsalgia risk factor is having a high-arched foot. Why is that the case? When your arch is so far off the ground, the ball of your foot absorbs a lot more pressure as you walk or run. But that's not the only foot shape that increases your risk for this condition. Other metatarsalgia risk factors include having hammertoes, bunions, or a big toe that's shorter than your second toe. And all of those deformities could lead to ball of foot pain because they change the way your foot absorbs your body weight, leaving the ball of your foot to take on excess pressure.

On that note, carrying excess weight can increase your risk for ball of foot pain. And so can shoes that don’t fit, since they won't absorb enough shock when you walk or run. Finally, changes in your gait caused by a stress fracture of the foot or a Morton's neuroma could increase your risk for pain and inflammation.

How Do I Know if I Have Metatarsalgia?

Many conditions can cause ball of foot pain. And that's why, the only way to really know if you have metatarsalgia is to come to our podiatry practice in Powder Springs, and get a comprehensive examination. Still, if you're looking for what's causing your discomfort, these clues could mean it's metatarsalgia:

Your pain did not hit you all at once; instead, it came on gradually over time, getting worse over time. You can find relief by resting your foot, but it's likely to get worse if you stand up, walk, or run. And when you are moving on your feet? It could feel like there's a marble in your foot or a rock stuck in your shoe. All of these signs could mean metatarsalgia is causing the pain in the ball of your foot.

How Do You Get Rid of Metatarsalgia?

At the first sign of discomfort, you can try some of these at-home remedies for ball of foot pain. First, try and rest your foot as much as possible, to avoiding adding pressure to the inflamed area. Next, apply ice to the affected foot for no more than 20 minutes at a time. And make several daily applications. If your doctor says it's safe to do so, you can try over the counter anti-inflammatories, to reduce pain and inflammation. However, if your pain does not resolve in a day or two, you'll likely need to make an appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans at our Powder Springs podiatry practice in order to find lasting relief.

Diagnosing and Treating Ball of Foot Pain in Powder Springs, GA

If self-care doesn't work, it's important to come into the office quickly. Untreated metatarsalgia symptoms will worsen, and pain in the ball of your foot can interfere with your daily routine. In fact, if you ignore this kind of ball of foot pain, other parts of your body may also suffer.

Now, before beginning treatment, you'll need a thorough exam to confirm a metatarsalgia diagnosis. Afer all, this condition shares symptoms with several other foot problems. So we’ll need to see you in the office to give you an accurate diagnosis. Once we confirm the cause of pain in your ball of foot, through a medical history and a physical exam to pinpoint the source of your pain, we can begin to craft a treatment plan.

First, we'll look at your foot gear. We can try padding the balls of your feet in your shoes, and switching you to a more supportive shoe style. While your foot is still inflamed, we'll recommend keeping up with resting, icing and elevating your feet. During your recovery period, we may also suggest changing your exercise routine. You should choose lower impact activities, like swimming, that keep you active while taking pressure off your feet. Finally, we may suggest keeping up with your over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medications to speed up healing while managing your discomfort.

Now, these measures can help with your immediate discomfort. But we also have to make sure that metaarsalgia doesn't return. And one way we can do that is by fitting you for custom orthotics. These are medical devices made to fit your exact foot shape. They can take pressure off the balls of your feet, offering immediate and lasting pain relief. Orthotics are especially important if high arches are the cause of your condition.

For most patients, these non-invasive treatment options will relieve metatarsalgia. But sometimes, especially if you suffer from other foot concerns, you'll need a more permanent solution. In these cases, we may recommend surgery or MIS in order to relieve the pain in the ball of your foot and help you walk comfortably again.

Remember, metatarsalgia treatments work best when we see you early on. Coming in at the first sign of discomfort reduces your risk of migrating pain, along with the need for invasive treatment plans. So schedule your ball of foot pain consultation today. Our trained podiatrist in Powder Springs is here to help!