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Posted on 09-05-2013


Morning everyone!

I've had a number a patients lately that have presented with numbness, tingling, and burning pain - These are all symptoms that patients might experience as a result of metatarsalgia.  This can make daily actions such as walking, standing, or wiggling the toes excruciatingly painful.

The five metatarsal heads (bones behind your toes and make up your arch) that control and balance the feet during normal gait undergo great pressure. As the metatarsals press against each other, pain is concentrated toward the ball of the foot. As a result, supportive nerves, ligaments, and muscles between the metatarsal heads become inflamed. It’s possible for these symptoms to develop suddenly, especially with patients involved in excessive amounts of running or jumping, however, the problem usually develops over time.

Metatarsalgia occurs when there is a change in the mechanics of the foot. According to the American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine (ACFAOM), while a single factor can sometimes lead to metatarsalgia, it’s more common for several factors to be involved[i], such as:

Intense activity
Hammertoes and bunions
Excess weight
Poorly fitting shoe

Each of these factors can disrupt normal functionality of the feet. During normal gait, any imbalances or misalignments that the metatarsal heads experience will cause inflammation and pain. Certain metatarsals may undergo more or less pressure depending on functionality and gait of a patient. As a result, calluses form on the pressure points of the met pad if left unattended. Intense activity is especially demanding for this area of the foot.  

Be wary, however, the source of a your metatarsalgia could be more serious.  The “pain, burning, numbness and tingling” associated with metatarsalgia are often caused by Morton’s Neuroma, which requires different treatment or even a disc issue referring from the low back. If, however, you are simply a victim of metatarsalgia, treatment is generally very simple. 

Treating metatarsalgia is usually an at-home affair—plenty of ice and rest can usually clear up the nastiest cases. The Mayo Clinic recommends starting with ice on the ball of the foot, which will help decrease joint inflammation. Once the inflammation has decreased, keeping pressure off the metatarsals is the only thing left to do.

While treating metatarsalgia is easy, preventing metatarsalgia from returning can be tricky. Paul R. Scherer, DPM, believes that preventative treatment starts with footwear and orthotics. Bring your shoes into the office and lets look at them together to be sure they are the right fit for you. Opt for shoe choices with some form of forefoot cushioning: if you have fallen arches, its time to get a good motion-control shoe. If you wear high heels, I strongly encourage you to stop—high heels smash the feet into unnatural positions and put crushing amounts of force on the forefeet.

In conjunction with good shoes, orthotics are often the best defense against returning metatarsalgia. According to the Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas, Studies have shown that custom orthotics can consistently decrease pain in the forefoot with proximal padding, which unburdens the metatarsal heads and prevents fallen arches. Footmaxx™ orthotics we carry here at WellnessOne of Redding with the Met Pad accommodation protect the metatarsals and offer patients more protection and support.

Nobody wants to be out of commission as the school year starts to heat up. With weight control, good shoe choices and individually designed orthotics, WellnessOne of Redding can stop metatarsalgia in its tracks!  Mention today's blog and have your feet scanned on our state of the art digital scanner at no charge (normally a $20 value!).

It's your there healthy with WellnessOne!  Have a blessed day!

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