Metatarsalgia(Forefoot Pain) is a common overuse running injury. It is a condition in which the ball of the foot becomes painful and inflamed especially the area between your arch and the toes. The pain usually centers on one or more of the five bones (metatarsals) in this area under the toes. The pain comes on over a period of several months rather than suddenly as the delicate balance between bones is disrupted. It often occurs as a result of symptoms of other conditions. Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can sideline you for a period of time. Track and field runners are exposed to the highest level of traumatic forces to the forefoot,
Causes of Metatarsalgia
● An enlarged metatarsal head.
● Arthritis or any degenerative disease of the joints.
● Systemic conditions such as diabetes, which can cause nerve type pain in the foot.
● Calluses or skin lesions that cause the weight on the foot to be unevenly distributed.
● Ageing which tends to thin out or shift the fatty tissue of the foot pad.
● Tight fitting running shoes that put pressure on the bones of the feet.
● Shoes with small toe boxes that cramp your toes.
● A burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn't improve after changing your shoes and modifying your activities.
● Discomfort when wearing shoes and socks.
● Foot deformities and shoes that are too tight or too loose.
● Bone abnormalities to systemic diseases such as diabetes.
Alteration of the posture in the long bones (metatarsals) of the foot which absorb weight during running. Weakness, lack of support and abnormally long or stress fractured bones will create dysfunction among all the bones.
Symptons of Metatarsalgia
● Sharp, aching or burning pain at the end of one or more of the metatarsal bones
● A shooting pain, numbness or tingling in your toes.
The pain worsens when you stand, run, flex your feet or walk especially barefoot on a hard surface and improves when you rest.
● Callus (Build up of Skin) that forms on the bottom of your foot as a result of excessive pressure over the bone.
If any of the above symptons are severe seek medical advice.
Treatments for Metatarsalgia
● Wearing proper footwear with shock absorbing insoles or arch supports can prevent or minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.
● Soaking your feet to soften calluses and then removing some of the dead skin with a pumice stone or callus file will also ease pressure.
● Using appropriate properly fitting running shoes with a wide toe box that distributes weight and pressure evenly across the foot.
● Massaging the afflicted area to relieve swelling pressure, increase local circulation and reduce your pain.