Metatarsalgia is an injury that commonly occurs due to the overuse of muscles. The term refers to inflammation and pain that occurs in the ball of your foot. In most cases, metatarsalgia is considered a symptom of another condition and isn't considered to be a disease of its own. Injuries to the forefoot tend to be common among high-impact exercisers and athletes. There's a high risk of injury to the forefoot for individuals who participate in high-impact sports involving running or jumping. In fact, individuals who participate in track and field have the highest chance of developing metatarsalgia. However, the condition is also common in soccer players, baseball players, football players, and tennis players. There are a variety of symptoms to look out for.
Sharp Pain In The Toes
Metatarsalgia's most common symptom is a sharp pain in the toes. This is because the condition affects the metatarsal bones. Pain typically occurs at the end of at least one of the bones, though in some cases, multiple bones are affected. The sharp pain patients experience will typically become increased when they run or walk. If a patient is an athlete with an inflammatory condition like bursitis, they might experience pain in the toes, the middle of the foot, or the ball of the foot. It's uncommon for the pain to be sudden. Instead, it slowly grows over a period that lasts for several months. Some other conditions can imitate the symptoms of metatarsalgia, such as Morton's neuroma. This condition causes inflammation and irritation to the nerve near the metatarsal bones. If a patient has Morton's neuroma rather than metatarsalgia, they might experience numbness in the toes as well.
Aching Pain In The Balls Of The Feet
While the primary symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the toes, this doesn't tend to be the only symptom. The pain will often radiate throughout the rest of the foot, and patients might experience aching pain in the balls of their feet. Patients may also have radiating pain in the arches of their feet, though this doesn't tend to be as concentrated. Aching pain in the balls of the feet can be caused by many other conditions as well. It's most commonly a sign there has been some kind of injury to the foot. Athletes might injure their foot when they participate in sports activities. Individuals may also injure their feet if they participate in a high-impact exercise like running. In other cases, conditions might be caused by an abnormal distribution of weight in the foot. Normal biomechanics will sometimes be altered, which can be the cause of this unusual weight distribution. If the pain continues for a significant period, it's helpful to have the injury evaluated by a medical professional.
Pain That Worsens When Active
Another classic symptom of metatarsalgia is pain that worsens when active. The condition most often affects athletes and individuals with very active exercise routines. Runners are particularly susceptible to injury in their forefoot. Individuals who participate in track and field, daily runs, or sprinting have a good chance of injuring their forefoot at some point. Some medical conditions don't cause increased pain when an individual is active. However, metatarsalgia is one where it tends to become more painful when the patient is active. Because of this, athletes may need to take time off from their sport to let their foot recover. Continuing to be active despite the pain may lead to further injury.
Inflammation Of The Foot
A patient might experience inflammation in their feet if they suffer from metatarsalgia. Many other injuries to the foot can cause inflammation as well. If there is persistent stress applied to the foot, the inflammation and irritation might become chronic. Ligaments, tendons, and bone covering will all be vulnerable to inflammation. A number of factors can cause an excess in pressure on the forefoot. If an individual has prominent metatarsal heads, a hammertoe, or a tight Achilles tendon, they're more likely to develop metatarsalgia. High activity levels and ill-fitting footwear can also increase an individual's risk as well. If an individual has weak toe flexors or tight toe extensors, they're at increased risk for developing metatarsalgia.
Tingling Or Numbness
Individuals might experience tingling or numbness in their feet thanks to metatarsalgia, though these can be caused by some other conditions as well. If an individual is experiencing tingling or numbness alone, metatarsalgia is unlikely, as the condition tends to present chiefly with pain. However, individuals with metatarsalgia may have tingling in their toes that mingles with the pain. A condition called Morton's neuroma mimics the symptoms of metatarsalgia and often presents with numbness in the toes. Patients might also experience numbness or tingling in their toes if they have an issue with circulation. The 'pins and needles'; feeling in the foot might be a sign blood isn't circulating through the foot as effectively as it should be. If you aren't sure what's causing the symptoms in your foot, get in contact with your doctor, who may send you to a specialist like an orthopedist or podiatrist.