At Yeargain Foot & Ankle, we often see runners coming in for advice about foot pain. Unfortunately, with overuse, some runners are susceptible to many foot issues. So, if you’re a runner, we hope you’re taking good care of your feet. We understand how important your exercise and routines are for you.
In this post, the condition we’re talking about is Metatarsalgia. And yes, it can often affect runners. This painful condition involves the ball of the foot, it usually includes a tenderness when touched, and when stepping, the feet will feel sore and inflamed. Another way this condition can develop is if you regularly walk for exercise but don’t have supportive shoes.
This post looks at metatarsalgia treatment, what causes it, minimizing further injury, and how Yeargain Foot & Ankle can help you heal.
What Does Metatarsalgia Look Like?
Metatarsalgia tends to develop gradually over time. The inflammation and pain are generally felt on the bottom of the foot, at the metatarsal heads, or long bones extending from mid to forefoot. Pain can be felt in a focal area or across the entire ball of the foot. There are several symptoms to discuss when answering the question, what does metatarsalgia look like?
- Numbness & tingling
- Dull pain & achiness that sometimes resembles stepping on a pebble or stone
- Sharp or burning pain
- Pain worsens when you stand, walk, or run, especially barefooted on hard surfaces
What Causes Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia typically results due to increased pressure on the ball of the foot. Several factors are involved in this painful condition:
- What kind of arch do you have? Your foot type plays a role in metatarsalgia. A higher arch puts extra pressure on the metatarsals leading to metatarsalgia.
- What are your toes like? Having a longer second toe can cause more weight to be shifted to the second metatarsal head on the ball of the foot resulting in pain.
- Are you training? Increased activity tends to be the most common cause of metatarsalgia. Cross country or long-distance runners are at risk primarily because the front of the foot absorbs significant force while running.
- Are you very active? Technically, anyone who participates in high-impact sports or activities is at risk, especially if unsupportive or ill-fitting shoes are worn.
- Do you have foot deformities? These can also factor in the development of metatarsalgia. For example, wearing too-small shoes or high heels can cause deformities such as hammertoes and bunions to develop and cause metatarsalgia.
- Are your calves tight? Tight calf muscles can also be a culprit in most athletes. Having tight calf muscles increases the downward position of your foot, increasing the peak pressure at the ball of your foot while walking or performing activities.
- Are you carrying extra weight? This can also increase the strain on your metatarsals. Losing weight may help reduce or eliminate symptoms.
How Long Does Metatarsalgia Last?
As with most foot problems, Metatarsalgia varies from person to person based on the activity and factors that bring on the condition. Generally, this condition can take 6-8 weeks to improve, but this timeframe is shortened when diagnosed and treated early. Remember, never ignore the pain you’re feeling. It rarely just goes away. Chatting with an expert sooner rather than later is always a better idea. Noncompliance or ignoring your pain can double the recovery time in most cases, making it very difficult to get back to performing the activities you love.
How To Prevent Metatarsalgia
Finding the right pair of shoes is vital in preventing metatarsalgia. Avoid wearing too-loose or too-tight shoes and try to limit the use of high heels or shoes that increase pressure to the ball of the foot. If you’re exercising regularly, wearing the appropriate shoes for your training is essential and can prevent the development of metatarsalgia. If you want to increase your cardio or running distance, consider purchasing a supportive athletic shoe that can absorb the force. Something else you can do is stretch before activities, especially if running or playing a high-impact sport. Remember, early diagnosis can prevent metatarsalgia from worsening.
What Can A Podiatrist Do For Metatarsalgia Treatment?
The reason it’s vital to chat with a podiatrist rather than your general physician is that they accurately identify and diagnose the actual cause of your foot pain as podiatrists treat feet all day, every day. So the first thing we will do when you come to YF&A is to identify how to treat metatarsalgia specifically for you and diagnose the actual cause of your foot pain. This could be a stress fracture, bone bruise, joint injury, arthritis, tendinitis, or even a nerve injury.
Once we identify what causes your metatarsalgia, we can directly design a treatment plan to address your particular injury. We will treat your pain and the underlying condition causing your metatarsalgia to prevent this from coming back again in the future.
As foot and ankle specialists, we can provide several methods to relieve your pain and help shorten your recovery time. Our protocols at Yeargain Foot & Ankle involve:
- Stretching videos
- Night splint or other stretching devices
- Sandal and shoe recommendations
- Inserts with a special metatarsal pads which are available same day in our office
- Custom orthotics to help decrease the pressure at the ball of the foot and improve foot function
- 3D scanning
- Orthotics with modifications, like a metatarsal pad built into the insert to provide offloading to the ball of the foot
- Steroid injections
- Topical CBD cream, which is excellent for this type of inflammation
If all these non-surgical treatment options fail to resolve your symptoms fully, we will discuss a surgical treatment plan to correct your issue and get you back to doing the things you love again pain-free on your feet!
What Happens If You Don’t Get Metatarsalgia Treatment?
If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain in other parts of the lower extremity, hip, or lower back due to compensation. However, as mentioned before, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a faster recovery and help you return to the sport or activity you love the most!
How Yeargain Foot & Ankle Can Help
If you have any concerns that you may have developed Metatarsalgia and would like to know how to treat metatarsalgia or how to prevent metatarsalgia, visit us today so that you can begin your journey back to healthy, pain-free feet! To book an appointment, call (972) 853-4886 or book an appointment via our contact page.
We look forward to treating you. You’ll find Yeargain Foot & Ankle at 3801 Gaston Ave. Suite 330 across the street from the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.