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Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic

Metatarsalgia: Oh My Aching Forefoot

If an activity hurt every time you tried it, eventually you would give up on it. Your body doesn’t like to put up with repetitive pain. When that painful action is walking, however, you have a problem that limits your independence and mobility. Metatarsalgia, or ball of the foot pain, can make it difficult for you to continue walking around and tends to get worse with time.

Forefoot Aches

The ball of your foot is the part of your sole where your toes meet your metatarsal bones. It’s a major supporting and load-bearing area of your lower limbs. Metatarsalgia is a burning, aching pain in some part of the ball of your foot. It’s actually a generic term for a variety of conditions. You may develop the discomfort under just your big toe or any number of the small ones. The problem is frequently related to overuse—repeated hard impacts, poor conditioning, and improper footwear may put too much force on the forefoot. However, your natural foot shape, a deformity, and even obesity can strain the ball the foot as well.

Know the Signs

How metatarsalgia affects your foot entirely depends on the underlying cause. Generally, though, the ache develops slowly over time. You may have sharp or shooting pains that radiate into your toes as well. The discomfort is typically worst when you put pressure on the ball of the foot or you flex your toes. Sometimes you may have numbness as well.

Relieving the Problem

Fortunately, conservative treatments have proven largely successful with metatarsalgia. You’ll need to have your foot carefully examined so you can receive accurate treatment. Dr. Darren Silvester, and our staff at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic, will carefully look over your lower limbs and use a variety of tests to determine an underlying cause of your ball of the foot pain. We may request diagnostic images like X-rays to rule out possible problems like stress fractures. Once we understand your condition, we can help you heal.

You’ll need to rest your foot for a time. This may mean decreasing or taking a break from all hard-impact activities. Ice your foot when it hurts, too. This will help lower any inflammation. You might need extra cushioning in your shoe to help your foot absorb shock better as well. Simple pads, or even orthotics, may be best for this. Custom orthotics can also help correct any biomechanical issues that may have contributed to your condition.

Most likely you will need to make some changes to your footwear as well. Wear models with sufficient padding under the ball of the foot and the right kind of arch stabilization for your midfoot type. Sometimes using a stiff-soled shoe can help keep your joints from bending too much and aggravating the problem. Avoid shoes that are too narrow or pointed, or have raised heels. These can put pressure on your forefoot and worsen the problem.

Metatarsalgia is a common issue in the ball of the foot, but it doesn’t have to limit your activities. You can eliminate the discomfort with some easy, conservative therapies. The longer you wait to address the problem, however, the more likely it will become chronic and hard to treat. Don’t wait until you’re limping to deal with your pain. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester of Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, by calling (830) 569-3338, or sending us a request online for an appointment.