Poorly Fitting Shoes
An individual's metatarsalgia can be caused by their excessive use of poorly fitting shoes. Shoes are meant to support and protect an individual's feet. However, some individuals wear shoes simply due to fashion reasons without considering how well they serve their protective and supportive purposes. Shoes known to cause pain in the ball of the foot include high heeled shoes, shoes with a narrow toe box, and athletic shoes that do not provide enough support and padding for the individual's level of activity. Very narrow shoes can impair the natural and healthy distribution of weight in the feet. Narrow shoes press the metatarsal bones together, which is compounded with inappropriate weight and force distribution to cause an individual to experience pain in the ball of their foot. Due to the nature of gravity, shoes with an elevated heel, like high heels and wedges, cause most of the body weight and force to be placed on the front portion of the foot. Wearing these types of shoes too often can cause an individual to develop metatarsalgia.
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A hammertoe deformity may cause individuals to be more likely to develop pain in the ball of their foot as a symptom of their toe abnormality. Hammertoe describes a bending deformity that occurs in the first or second joints of the individual's second, third, fourth, or fifth toes. The toes appear to point in a downward direction instead of pointing straight forward in individuals with hammertoe. Hammertoe is caused by abnormal contracture or tightening of the tendons that hold the toe joints. All of an individual's toes perform functions important to the foot and even the spine. The toes are supportive because they keep in contact with the ground seventy-five percent of the time when an individual is walking. They help better distribute an individual's body weight throughout the foot by exerting pressure during movement. This mechanism of the toes helps support an individual's posture and upright balance. An untreated hammertoe deformity can cause the individual's metatarsal bones and toe joints to become misaligned, compromising the function of the toes and causing inflammation and pain.
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A type of foot deformity referred to as bunions can cause an individual to develop metatarsalgia. A bunion is a structural abnormality of the foot where a bony bump forms on the side of an individual's big toe. This causes the base of the big toe to stick outward and be wider than the rest of the foot. An individual may be born with bunions, or certain factors can cause them to develop one over time. When pressure is placed on the joint of the big toe over an extended period, the toe starts to angle inward toward the middle toe. This results in an alteration of the bone structure, causing the bunion bump to develop. An individual's bunion causes their forefoot alignment to become altered in a complicated fashion. This misalignment results in unhealthy areas of prominence in an individual's foot and distorts the functional anatomy of the forefoot. Individuals with bunions end up placing inappropriate force and weight on the metatarsal bones to alleviate the pain and pressure they feel when they place more weight on their bunion. This mechanism can result in the formation of metatarsalgia.