What are Metatarsalgia, What Causes Metatarsalgia, and What is the Treatment for Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is literally defined as pain in the fore foot. The underlining root cause is usually excessive pressure on the ball of the foot due to adult adaptive changes and/or trauma. Trauma can come in several forms from repetitive stress to an injury that changes the structure of the foot. As we age we lose the fat pad on the bottoms of our feet and hence lose cushioning that can cause pain. Many patients experience a dull aching pain under the metatarsal heads and some have callus formation due to pressure. Standing on hard surfaces without proper support or cushioning makes the condition worse.
Adult adaptive changes to the foot where the metatarsals change angulation and cause pressure at the distal end, obesity, abnormalities in the gait cycle (walking motion), flat feet, high arched feet, bony prominences, and the loss of the Loss of fat pad on the bottom of the foot.
Many people try to alleviate the pain caused by metatarsalgia by placing pads under the metatarsal heads. This will help to some degree. Custom foot orthotic should be used to properly the trans-metatarsal arch and cushion the metatarsal heads. This is also helpful to relieve the excessive pressure that leads to callus formation. Weight should be redistributed equally with the use of an orthotic. An effective orthotic transfers pressure away from the “hot spots” or high pressure areas to relieve pain and unload pressure on callus areas. The orthotic should be made with materials that absorb shock and shear (friction) forces. Women should also steer away from wearing high-heeled shoes that place extra pressure on the ball of the foot.