What is metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia describes pain in the ball of the foot. It is often said to be similar to the sensation of walking on pebbles but can also be experienced as shooting or stabbing pain in the ball of the foot. Sometimes the symptoms can spread into the toes.
What causes metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia can be brought on by putting extra pressure through the ball of the foot, so things like wearing high heels, being overweight and high impact sports can contribute to this condition. Other foot problems like flat feet, arthritis, diabetes, joint deformities and stress fractures can also make it worse.
How is metatarsalgia diagnosed?
Metatarsalgia is usually diagnosed by clinical examination, often without the need for further tests. In order to rule out a similar condition called Morton’s neuroma, an investigation such as an ultrasound scan or x-ray may be needed.
Treatment and recovery
Treating the symptoms of metatarsalgia mainly involves managing the contributing factors. This could include weight loss, wearing specially designed shoe insoles and treating any other foot problems like arthritis. Changing footwear to shoes that are wider and more comfortable with a low heel, and resting and raising the foot when possible, can also help alleviate symptoms.
If problems still continue, further tests may be needed to make sure that there isn’t another cause of the symptoms, which may require more invasive intervention such as painkilling injections or surgery.
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