Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes a great deal of pain in the ball of the foot. Along with a constant throbbing sensation, this condition will also inflame the tissues of the foot and cause swelling. While some people only experience severe foot pain when jumping or running, anyone with an advanced case will also experience the pain while walking at a normal pace.
There are several reasons why metatarsalgia will develop. In some cases, the origins have to do with factors that can be corrected with relative ease. For example, wearing shoes that do not fit properly will cause irritation along the ball of the foot, inflaming the tissues. This leads to additional swelling that only makes the foot problems worse. As a result, the individual begins to experience bursts of pain that eventually become constant.
Extra body weight is not just hard on the lungs and heart; carrying around excessive pounds also puts pressure on the feet, especially the heel and ball on each foot. The additional pressure that is applied to the metatarsals during normal activities like walking may lead to the development of this metatarsalgia. As the weight gain continues, the pain and swelling will intensify.
Even something as simple as the development of a bunion near the base of the big toe can lead to the development of metatarsalgia. Wearing high heels or shoes that are too narrow can trigger the formation of a bunion, which in turn weakens the function of the big toe and puts additional stress of the ball of the foot. As a result, pain and inflammation develop.
Not all causes of metatarsalgia have to do with personal habits and footwear choices. People with a high arch can sometimes develop the condition, since the elevated arch puts more pressure on the metatarsals. After vigorous exercises like running or jogging, there is a good chance inflammation will take place. In like manner, anyone who is suffering with Morton’s neuroma will also likely develop inflammation of the metatarsals as the growth pinches on the nerves. Over time, this translates into sharp pains that alternate with periods of numbness.
Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with metatarsalgia. One quick remedy is to apply cold to the inflamed area. Something as simple as crushed ice wrapped in a kitchen towel can be used. Maintain the cold to the area for twenty minutes, repeating the treatment throughout the day, until the swelling begins to subside.
Using an over the counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen will help to ease the pain and also help with the inflammation. If you are taking prescription medications, speak with your doctor before taking any over the counter medication, as there may be a negative interaction. Don’t exceed the daily usage recommended by the manufacturer, or by your doctor.
Some people find relief by simply purchasing shoes that are a better fit, or using some form of shoe insert to provide support and absorb the pressure generated when walking or running. For people with high arches, the use of metatarsal pads will help to ease the stress on the ball of the foot and help prevent inflammation.