Article by John Miller
What is Metatarsalgia?
The most common source of Ball of Foot pain is metatarsalgia. The term is derived from the medical term metatarsals (long bones of the foot) and algos (the Greek word meaning pain).
The metatarsal bones are designed to equally share the weight of a person during walking and daily activities. When this delicate balance between bones is disrupted, the result can be mild to intense foot pain. The term metatarsalgia refers to the number of problems people can experience in this area.
Causes of Metatarsalgia
The causes of metatarsalgia pain can be attributed to a number of factors, from bone abnormalities to systemic diseases such as diabetes.
The most common cause is an alteration of the posture in the long bones (metatarsals) of the foot. These bones absorb the weight during walking, and if one of the bones falls down through weakness or lack of support, is abnormally long or fractured from stress, it will create dysfunction among all bones.
Other causes include:
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
Relief and Prevention of Metatarsalgia
Treatment of metatarsalgia depends on the cause. Here are a few suggestions to help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with this condition:
Taking a good look at the shoes you wear is the first step in eliminating and preventing the painful condition of Metatarsalgia. The objective is to find appropriate footwear that distributes the weight and pressure evenly across the foot, rather than concentrates it in the toes and ball of the foot. Fashion designers are very inconsiderate of people suffering Metatarsalgia.
Massage the afflicted area to relieve swelling pressure, increase local circulation and reduce your pain.
Over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen, Voltaren etc may help to reduce the symptoms but do not correct the main "postural" reasons for irritation so a recurrence is likely. Please consult your doctor prior to taking these drugs.
Footwear Orthotics or Metatarsalgia Accessories
Corrective Metatarsalgia Exercises
PhysioWorks physiotherapists have designed a dynamic corrective foot posture exercises that they have been prescribing and fine tuning over the past decade. The aim of these exercises is to actually correct the dynanmic muscle control of your foot. Ideally, if we can help you to retrain your own foot muscles then hopefully you won't need to wear shoes with orthotics to passively solve your problem.
Our foot muscles are designed to work effectively. It is common for these muscles to simply weaken and become lazy. The good news is that most foot muscle weakness can be retrained successfully within weeks.
Please consult your physiotherapist for specific advice. Your physiotherapist will also inspect other reasons for your foot collapsing, such as muscle tightness or referred pain from your back.
Surgery for Metatarsalgia
When metatarsalgia does not respond to these treatments, surgical solutions may be required. Consult your physiotherapist or a podiatrist for further options and considerations related to metatarsalgia.
Helpful Products for Metatarsalgia
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