Metatarsalgia: a Fancy Word for Ouch!
You just wanted to take a nice walk in the park, or a hike along one of the beautiful Coal Creek trails near Sammamish, and now you are limping along, wondering if you’ll make it home. It feels like there’s a stone in your shoe, and every step makes you grimace in pain. If you have this kind of discomfort under the ball of your foot that gets worse when you exercise and goes away when you rest, you might have metatarsalgia.
An Anatomy Lesson
Your foot has 26 bones. Five of them are called metatarsals – the long bones that connect the arch of your foot to the toe bones. The place where the metatarsal heads meet the phalanges in your toes is that well-padded area we call the ball of the foot. Nerves run between the foot bones, and when something causes the bones to press on each other, or the surrounding soft tissue becomes inflamed, pain signals are sent to your brain. That’s the “ouch!” you feel with every step.
The Many Causes of Metatarsalgia
Whether it’s running and jumping during sports, walking and climbing ladders on the job, or leaping and twirling while dancing, high levels of activity increase your risk of foot problems. The repeated stress on the bones and tissues of your feet causes them to become irritated and inflamed. This can also be caused by foot structure problems like a tight Achilles tendon, hammertoes, high arches, or a long second toe. Pain can result from abnormal foot mechanics like over-pronation. Tight or loose muscles in the toes can also be a factor.
Forefoot Pain Shouldn’t Be Ignored
As an overuse injury, metatarsalgia will probably not improve without treatment. It is important to have an expert diagnose the problem and guide you to the best treatment method. Dr. Howard Schaengold has years of experience treating all types of foot problems. Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs can help determine where the damage is located. Watching your gait on a treadmill or a foot scan on a pressure plate can give further diagnostic information.
Treatment begins with simple measures like resting the foot, reducing swelling and pain with ice packs, and elevating it as much as possible. When the injury has stabilized, the doctor may start you on range of motion exercises to keep the area mobile without putting pressure on it. Your shoes may be a contributing factor, and prescription orthotics often address the root of the problem. Many people with arch problems, pronation issues, and foot deformities find good relief with custom inserts that support the foot in the right places and correct imbalances and faulty mechanics. The goal is to regain as much motion and mobility as possible without bringing back the pain.
Find Help for Foot Problems in Sammamish
Dr. Howard Schaengold has helped people with problems like metatarsalgia for over 23 years. Serving Sammamish, Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah, The Plateau Foot & Ankle can be reached by phone at (425) 868-3338, or you can request an appointment on our website. Don’t suffer another day with foot pain!