According to the Mayo Clinic, metatarsalgia is a condition involving pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot. Technically called the metatarsal region of the foot, this is the part of the sole just before the toes.
The general cause of metatarsalgia is excess pressure on the metatarsals, leading to pain and inflammation. While intense high-impact training, especially with ill fitting or worn out shoes, is the most factor leading to metatarsalgia, other factors include:
1. Foot shape. A high arch or a second toe that's larger than the big toe can put extra pressure on the metatarsals;
2. Hammertoe, which commonly develops from wearing high heels or shoes that are too small;
3. Bunions. A bunion is a swollen, painful bump at the base of the big toe. It can weaken your feet, putting extra stress on the metatarsal;
4. Excess weight, which puts more pressure on the balls of the feet;
5. Morton's neuroma, a benign growth around a metatarsal nerve, which contributes to metatarsal stress; and
6. Stress fractures. Small breaks in the toe bones can change the distribution of weight.
* While the symptoms of metatarsalgia vary, they may include:
* Sharp, aching, or burning pain in the ball of your foot;
* Sharp pain, shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes;
* Increased pain when you walk barefoot, especially on a hard surface; and
* A feeling that there's a pebble in your shoe.
Symptoms usually develop over time. They may, however, come on suddenly if you increase your normal amount of high impact exercise, such as running.
If you experience pain in the balls of your feet, don't exercise through the pain. Stay away from high-impact activity until you are pain free. Speed up your recovery with:
* Rest. Avoid high impact activity for a while;
* Ice. Apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day;
* Proper shoes, per doctor's recommendation;
* Shock-absorbing insoles. Off-the-shelf insoles help cushion shock;
* Metatarsal pads. They deflect stress away from painful areas; and
* Arch supports. Arch supports reduce stress on the metatarsal bones by repositioning bones and soft tissue. Custom orthotics are made from molds of your feet, so they fit perfectly.
As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." That is so true for metatarsalgia. If you are active and enjoy athletics, especially high-impact sports, you are at risk for getting metatarsalgia. To help protect your feet, wear the right shoes. Choose low-heeled shoes with good cushioning and support. Shoes with a wide toe box and a rocker sole distribute the weight on the bottom of your foot. And of course, wear shoes that fit right.
Consider arch supports as another hedge against metatarsal problems. In addition to helping relieve foot pain, arch supports can help prevent metatarsalgia.
Other foot problems
The metatarsals aren't the only areas of your feet subject to injury and pain. Toenail injuries, heel pain, plantar fasciitis, bruised, toes, and heal spurs are other types of foot problems that may require your attention. Your feet do a lot for you; give them the help they need to do a good job.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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