What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a term used to describe any pain experienced in the ball of your foot – just underneath your metatarsal bones. You can experience metatarsalgia as a result of a number of different conditions, but usually it’s triggered by excess pressure on a particular area, causing damage to your bone and soft tissue.

Common culprits of this increased pressure include high heels, excess weight, high-impact exercise and overuse. Underlying medical conditions that can also lead to metatarsalgia include arthritis, bunions, metatarsal fracture, nerve damage and previous surgery.

What are the symptoms of metatarsalgia?

You can experience metatarsalgia in one or both feet, across the entire ball of your foot or behind just one toe. The symptoms of metatarsalgia usually develop slowly over time and can include any of the following:

  • Mild to severe pain in the ball of your foot, which is worse after standing or exercise
  • An aching or burning sensation around the affected area
  • Tingling or numbness in your toes
  • The sensation of walking on pebbles
  • Swelling of your foot
  • Hard skin as a result of continued excess pressure
  • In rare cases metatarsalgia can even cause your foot to change shape

If you are experiencing the symptoms of metatarsalgia, make an appointment to see your GP. They can provide a thorough diagnosis and advise you on the best form of treatment

What are the treatments for metatarsalgia?

In most cases the symptoms of metatarsalgia can be improved by RICE: relaxation, ice, compression and elevation. You should then look to make lifestyle changes to stop the condition from reoccurring. These could include wearing comfortable shoes and avoiding tight-fitting footwear, losing weight and avoiding activities that exacerbate your symptoms.

Depending on the impact of your symptoms and their underlying cause, your GP may refer you to a podiatrist, or an orthopaedic surgeon, such as Mr Nirav Shah, for further treatment or investigations. Alternatively, you can book an appointment with Mr Shah directly for a private orthopaedic assessment.

Following your assessment, Mr Shah may recommend a cortisone injection to reduce your pain and inflammation, or surgery to treat an underlying condition. The majority of conditions can be treated using a type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy. This minimally invasive approach reduces discomfort, speeds up recovery and in most cases you will be able to go home on the same day as your operation.

If you’re experiencing pain in your foot and would like some advice, please call 01903 707373 or contact us using our online form.

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