Generalized pain underneath the metatarsals (ball of the foot).
Metatarsalgia common symptoms/complaints
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot – the part of the sole just behind your toes
- Pain in the area around your second, third or fourth toes – or, only near your big toe
- Pain that gets worse when you stand, walk or run and improves when you rest
- Sharp or shooting pain in your toes
- Numbness or tingling in your toes
- Pain that worsens when you flex your feet
- A feeling in your feet as if you’re walking with a pebble in your shoe
- Increased pain when you’re walking barefoot, especially on a hard surface
Sometimes these symptoms develop suddenly – especially if you’ve recently increased your usual amount of running, jumping or other high-impact exercise – but problems usually develop over time.
How is metatalsargia caused?
You may experience metatarsalgia if you’re physically active and you participate in activities that involve running and jumping. Or, you may develop metatarsalgia by wearing ill-fitting shoes. There are other causes as well such as overpronation.
Most metatarsal problems develop when something changes in the way your foot normally works (mechanics), affecting how your weight is distributed. This can put excess pressure on the metatarsals, leading to inflammation and pain, especially in the metatarsal heads – the rounded ends of the bones that connect with your toe bones.
Sometimes a single factor can lead to metatarsalgia. More often, several factors are involved, including:
- Intense training or activity. Runners are at risk of metatarsalgia, primarily because the front of your foot absorbs significant force when you run. But anyone who participates in a high-impact sport is also at risk, especially if your shoes are ill-fitting or are worn out.
- Certain foot shapes. A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals. So can having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe, which causes more weight than normal to be shifted to the second metatarsal head.
- Hammertoe. This foot problem can develop when high heels or too-small shoes prevent your toes from lying flat. As a result, one of your toes – usually the second – curls downward because of a bend in the middle toe joint. This contraction depresses the metatarsal heads.
- Bunion. This is a swollen, painful bump at the base of your big toe. Sometimes the tendency to develop bunions is inherited, but the problem can also result from wearing high heels or too-small shoes. Bunions are much more common in women than in men. A bunion can weaken your big toe, putting extra stress on the ball of your foot. Surgery to correct a bunion can also lead to metatarsalgia if you don’t rest long enough for your foot to heal completely.
- Excess weight. Because most of your body weight transfers to your forefoot when you move, extra pounds mean more pressure on your metatarsals. Losing weight may reduce or eliminate symptoms of metatarsalgia.
- Poorly fitting shoes. High heels, which transfer extra weight to the front of your foot, are a common cause of metatarsalgia in women. Shoes with a narrow toe box or athletic shoes that lack support and padding also can contribute to metatarsal problems.
- Stress fractures. Small breaks in the metatarsals or toe bones can be painful and change the way you put weight on your foot.
- Morton’s neuroma. This noncancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve usually occurs between the third and fourth metatarsal heads. It causes symptoms that are similar to metatarsalgia and can also contribute to metatarsal stress. Morton’s neuroma frequently results from wearing high heels or too-tight shoes that put pressure on your toes. It can also develop after high-impact activities such as jogging and aerobics.
How is metatalsargia treated?
Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can sideline you. Fortunately, conservative treatments, such as ice and rest, can often relieve metatarsalgia symptoms. And proper footwear, along with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports, may be all you need to prevent or minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.
Conservative measures usually relieve the pain of metatarsalgia.
- Rest. Protect your foot from further injury by not stressing it. You may need to avoid your favorite sport for a while, but you can stay fit with low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling. Continue with stretching and lower body strength training as your pain permits.
- Ice the affected area. Apply ice packs to the affected area for about 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. To protect your skin, wrap the ice packs in a thin towel.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve, others) or aspirin to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Wear proper shoes. Your doctor may recommend a shoe that’s especially suited for your foot type, your stride and your particular sport.
- Use metatarsal pads. These off-the-shelf pads are placed in your shoes just ahead of the metatarsal bone to help deflect stress away from the painful area.
- Custom arch supports. Arch supports that minimize stress on the metatarsal bones and improve foot function can be made to control your foot mechanics and off-load the pressure to the metatarsal boned. Rigid arch supports are made of a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber. They’re designed to control motion in two major foot joints below your ankles. Semirigid arch supports are made of softer materials such as leather and cork reinforced by silicone. Arch supports designed to treat metatarsalgia may include metatarsal pads, too.
If conservative treatments fail, in rare cases surgery to realign the metatarsal bones may be an option. If you’re considering foot surgery, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor.
Best Shoes for Metatarsalgia
We carry a wide variety of shoes and sandals for Metatarsalgia. Many of the supportive shoes and sandals we carry have great support and accommodate orthotics. The best shoes for Metatarsalgia help reduce pressure on the ball of the foot by utilizing metatarsal pads and controlling pronation. Additionally, shoes for Metatarsalgia usually have soles the curve at the forefoot so pressure is reduced at toe off. Shoes for Metatarsalgia should have a wider toe box. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely inside the shoes.
Best Arch Supports for Metatarsalgia
We carry a wide variety of shoes and arch supports for metatarsalgia online and in Southern California. We have fit customers with shoes and arch supports for metatarsalgia in Orange County, Inland Empire, Riverside and Los Angeles County.
Where to buy arch supports and shoes for metatarsalgia
At Lucky Feet Shoes, we carry a wide variety of arch supports and shoes for metatarsalgia online and in Southern California. We fit customers with arch supports and shoes for metatarsalgia in Orange County, Inland Empire, Riverside, Temecula and Los Angeles County. Our stores in Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Dimas, Anaheim Hills, Temecula, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, and Long Beach. We invite you to stop by for a free foot analysis and try our arch supports and shoes for metatarsalgia. In addition, we have a large selection of comfort shoes, wide shoes, walking shoes, running shoes, arch supports, and custom orthotics!