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If you have a diffuse ache in the bottom of your foot, you might be experiencing metatarsalgia pain.  What is metatarsalgia, and what should you do if you have it?  Here is everything you need to know about metatarsalgia foot pain and when to see a doctor.

What Is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a medical condition that causes the ball of your foot to hurt and become inflamed.  It is a problem that deals with the mechanics of the foot, and is very common.  If you play a sport or exercise often, you may find that difficult to compete while experiencing metatarsalgia pain.

What Causes Metatarsalgia Foot Pain?

Metatarsalgia has a few possible causes.  Intense activity that is especially hard on your feet can cause the condition to develop.  Runners have a high risk of developing metatarsalgia pain, as do others who participate in sports that repeatedly place significant amounts of force on the front part of the foot.  Wearing poor-fitting shoes while exercising only makes this worse.

Footwear in general can cause metatarsalgia, especially shoes that are very tight or too big.  High heels put pressure on the front part of the foot.  Many people who wear heels on a regular basis experience metatarsalgia foot pain.  Certain foot shapes, such as high arches and longer second toes, can also contribute to this condition. Often an xray of your foot will allow your doctor to assess the weight distribution along all the metatarsal heads, where you feel metatarsalgia pain, by analyzing the length of the bones compared to one another. Most commonly, pain is felt under the second metatarsal head, due to the length of this bone being just 1-2 mm longer than its counterparts. 

Other foot ailments like hammertoes, bunions, and stress fractures can lead to metatarsalgia pain.  Anytime you are walking differently because of pain or injury, the ball of your foot is taking more of an impact than usual.  This means that being overweight can cause your metatarsalgia foot pain to get worse as well.

What Are the Symptoms of Metatarsalgia?  

Metatarsalgia usually starts with forefoot pain.  Other signs include sharp pain or burning in the ball of your foot.  If this pain gets worse when you walk and better when you rest, it might be metatarsalgia.  Sharp, shooting pains and numbness are also symptoms.  Some people don’t report metatarsalgia foot pain as much as they just feel something is off.  It might seem that there is a small rock in your shoe even when you have checked and there is nothing there.  Achy feet are common after a long day, but if the pain lasts for multiple days, it might be metatarsalgia pain. Furthermore, after a long day of walking, patients with progressed metatarsalgia can have aching in the ball of their foot even after sitting down and not being on their feet. 

Is Metatarsalgia Pain Serious?

Not all metatarsalgia foot pain requires a doctor’s visit.  You can try a few lifestyle changes first.  Icing and resting your feet often relieves inflammation and pain.  Wearing properly fitting shoes can help prevent the condition from developing in the first place.  You can also get new footwear with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports or buy inserts to put into your current shoes to minimize the effects of metatarsalgia pain. 

If you have continued burning pain in your feet after several days and shoe modifications, it is time to talk to a doctor.  If you continue ignoring the problem, your metatarsalgia foot pain may turn into pain in other parts of the body.  This is because limping puts extra stress on the hips and lower back.  Your doctor will likely recommend different shoes, custom orthotics, or a metatarsal pad to treat the issue.  In rare severe cases, surgery can be done to realign the bones in the ball of your foot.

Seeking Relief From Metatarsalgia Pain?

No one likes limping around on aching feet all day.  Get relief from your metatarsalgia foot pain at Diablo Foot and Ankle.  Their expert Podiatrists will have you up and running again in no time.  Call or schedule an appointment online today.