Metatarsalgia is a condition that affects the metatarsal bones in the foot. These are the five long bones that connect to the toes. Metatarsalgia can cause pain in the ball of your foot and makes it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor and get proper treatment. In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about metatarsalgia: its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Commons Causes of Metatarsalgia
Metatarsalgia has many causes which can be singular or an amalgamation of various things. The main causes are:
- Overuse or repetitive stress on the metatarsal bones, usually from intensive activities like running, dancing, or other sports. This is because the feet are constantly absorbing an overwhelming amount of force, especially towards the front of the feet.
- Wearing high heels regularly can cause the metatarsals to be compressed.
- Nerve compression, such as from Morton’s neuroma — a noncancerous growth of fibrous tissue around a nerve.
You are most at risk of developing metatarsalgia if you:
- Have hammer toe (downward-curling toes) or bunions (extensive bumps on the big toes)
- Have foot problems like calluses on the bottom of your feet
- Are obese or overweight
- Use improper footwear like shoes that don’t fit properly or high heels
- Have arthritis that is inflammatory like gout and rheumatoid arthritis
- Play high-impact sports that include jumping and running
All of the above can severely impact the pressure one places on their feet which can harm the metatarsal bones.
Some of the most important signs of the condition are the following:
- Pain in the ball of your foot, which is usually much worse when you are standing or walking
- Burning, shooting, or aching pain that may radiate to your toes
- Tingling or numbness in your toes
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is vital to see a doctor to get treatment as soon as possible.
How Can Metatarsalgia Be Treated?
Metatarsalgia cases in Singapore aren’t always identical to one another. For this reason, it’s important to follow your foot and ankle doctor’s advice on suitable treatments.
Rest is recommended after intense pressure gathered throughout the day. This will allow for the metatarsal bones to recover overnight. A foot soak will be ideal for soothing the affected areas of the foot and removing the built-up calluses.
Placing ice on the affected areas will provide a cooling effect that will relax both you and your foot and reduce the potential swelling and pain.
To manage the pain, it is okay for you to take over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol. Also, a doctor can prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, if the pain persists, your doctor may recommend injectable corticosteroid steroids to further reduce inflammation.
If your self-medication efforts were not effective, you can seek the help of an experienced physiotherapist for your metatarsalgia. The physio will recommend suitable treatments such as exercise therapy to stretch and strengthen foot muscles, or prescribe custom orthotics to alleviate discomfort.
The last resort for treating metatarsalgia in Singapore is surgery. The metatarsalgia surgery procedure, which is called Weil Osteotomy, involves making a cut through the metatarsal bone and realigning them. It is usually a day procedure under general anaesthesia, with a recovery period of 3-6 months, depending on your condition.
If you have experienced or are currently experiencing the symptoms of metatarsalgia, then the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment. OrthofootMD is an orthopaedic healthcare medical consultancy, sports medicine consultancy, and orthopaedic specialist in Singapore that specialises in treating foot and ankle conditions, including metatarsalgia. Book a consultation today to get started.