Metatarsalgia is derived from the Greek words metatarsal, the long bones in your foot, and algos, a Greek word for pain. The ailment is the inflammation of joints in the foot, often stemming from overuse.
According to Web MD, Metatarsalgia is thought of as a symptom of other conditions, rather than a disease itself. With medical advice and a consistent treatment regimen, Metatarsalgia is a manageable diagnosis.
Causes and Symptoms
Metatarsalgia is most common in the ball of the foot, where the metatarsals meet the proximal phalanx bones. The Mayo Clinic describes symptoms as sharp, aching, or burning sensations in one or both feet. Tingling, numbness, and the feeling of having a pebble in your shoe are also common symptoms.
The pain generally increases with use, so activities such as walking that see your foot flex can aggravate the symptoms. In addition, repetitive, high-impact training such as running can inflame the foot joints, and without time to recover, the symptoms can increase.
According to Web MD, the symptoms generally appear over time rather than suddenly. Web MD also lists structural differences as possible culprits for Metatarsalgia. For example, a short first metatarsal bone or a long second metatarsal bone, prominent metatarsal heads, tight or weak muscles in the toes, stress fractures in the foot, along with a tight Achilles tendon make athletes more susceptible to Metatarsalgia.
Outside factors such as ill-fitting shoes, excessive high-heel wearing, bunions, being overweight, and excessive pronation (side-to-side foot movement while walking) can also contribute to Metatarsalgia.
The most successful Metatarsalgia treatments include involving a medical professional, resting the affected foot, and reducing inflammation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, at-home icing using a frozen water bottle, staying off your feet, and avoiding high-impact activities will see athlete’s symptoms reduce.
Web MD suggests patients to prop their affected feet up, and use pressure bandages to encourage inflammation to move out. Over-the-counter inflammation relievers such as ibuprofen can also be used, but only under medical supervision.
Proactive Metatarsalgia measures include gentle foot stretching and physical therapy exercises. Wearing supportive, cushioned insoles can also benefit athletes. When getting back to physical activity, choosing low-impact sports such as swimming gives patients the best chance at comfort.
According to Web MD, Metatarsalgia is a treatable condition that deserves serious attention. If left alone, the condition can grow, leading athletes to move their feet differently due to pain. In addition, deviating from a standard foot pattern opens the door for calluses, strains, and alignment issues in your hips and back. Treating the problem at the root is the best way to ensure the most comfort.
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