Your heels aren’t the only part of your feet that take a beating every time you walk, jog, run, jump, or engage in other high-impact activities. The balls of your feet do just as much work as your heel and hit the ground just as hard. And just as overuse can lead to heel pain and other issues, it can also cause pain, inflammation, and sensitivity in the balls of the feet. This common condition, called metatarsalgia, is particularly prevalent in athletes but can affect anyone who spends any significant amount of time on their feet.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

As the name of the condition implies, metatarsalgia most commonly manifests itself as pain and swelling at the end of one or several metatarsal bones which connect your toes to the rest of your foot. Typically, the pain and discomfort become more intense over time and are most acute when standing, walking, running, especially on hard, unforgiving surfaces. Sometimes, the pain may be shooting and sharp, while other individuals suffering from metatarsalgia may experience numbness or a tingling feeling in their toes.

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia can develop for any number of reasons, but it is most often associated with intense physical training and high-impact activities and sports. Other causes include:

  • Prominent metatarsal heads
  • Tight toe extensors
  • Weak toe flexors
  • Obesity
  • Hammertoe deformity
  • Hypermobile first foot bone
  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Poorly fitting footwear that doesn’t provide enough support and padding or have a narrow toe-box
  • Stress fractures
  • Morton’s neuroma, noncancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve that usually develops between the heads of the third and fourth metatarsal

Diagnosis and Treatment

The good news is that metatarsalgia can usually be treated simply without the need for surgery. Once your podiatrist has examined you, including x-rays if needed, and determined that this condition is the cause of your pain and discomfort, the answer may be as easy as resting, icing, or changing footwear. Your podiatrist may recommend metatarsal pads and other custom orthotic devices, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can help relieve pain and reduce swelling

Foot Pain Slowing You Down? Call Us Today!

If you are dealing with pain, swelling, or other issues with your feet, the experienced and caring podiatrists at JAWSpodiatry can help. Located in Hollywood, Florida, we employ the most advanced and non-invasive techniques to reduce foot and ankle pain and speed recovery. Please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.