Metatarsalgia is a condition that affects the metatarsals, which are the bones that connect the ankle bones to the toes. It is a common condition characterised by pain and inflammation. This condition develops when you participate in physical activities that involve running and jumping constantly. It could also form due to foot deformities or unsupported footwear. Although metatarsalgia may not be serious, it may still cause discomfort. However, some remedies can often help relieve symptoms and prevent major foot issues.
Causes of Metatarsalgia
Almost anyone can develop metatarsalgia. However, you may be at greater risk due to the following:
- Regularly engaging in high-impact sports that exert extra pressure on the metatarsal bones at the front of your foot. These are sports that generally involve a lot of running and jumping
- Wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes and athletic shoes that lack support and padding
- Suffering from conditions that affect the foot, such as hammer toe, calluses and inflammatory arthritis
- Obesity or excess weight
As metatarsalgia is a result of different factors, it’s critical that the orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore is well-equipped with the knowledge on evidence-based approaches to effectively address your condition.
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
Apart from pain under the ball of the foot, metatarsalgia may also be accompanied by swelling, bruising and inflammation. Signs and symptoms include:
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot
- Numbness or tingling in your toes
- Pain that worsens when you stand, run or walk, especially when barefooted on a hard surface
- Callus or corn formation under the ball of the foot
- The feeling of having a pebble in your shoe
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see an orthopaedic specialist in Singapore as soon as possible. If left untreated, metatarsalgia can lead to more serious conditions, like hammer toes, limping and pain in other parts of the body. Not all cases require surgery, but in more severe cases where you have toe deformities or when other forms of treatment have failed, metatarsalgia surgery may be necessary.
Diagnosis of Metatarsalgia
Before diagnosing your condition, a foot and ankle doctor in Singapore will examine your foot in both standing and sitting positions. They will also ask you some questions to understand your lifestyle, including:
- What is the nature of your work?
- How much time do you spend on your feet daily?
- What type of shoes do you usually wear?
- Have you started a new physical activity recently?
Your doctor may also order an X-ray to rule out other causes of foot pain. With a bone scan, they will be able to pinpoint the area with inflammation. You may even be asked to undergo an MRI to look for other causes of pain in your midfoot area and metatarsals. The MRI will be able to assess the condition of the soft tissues surrounding your metatarsophalangeal joints. If you have other underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, make sure to inform your doctor as well.
How Is Metatarsalgia Treated?
Treatment for your metatarsalgia will depend on the cause of your condition. However, common treatment options an orthopaedic specialist in Singapore will prescribe you are the following:
- Have the affected foot rested and elevated
- Applying a cold compress to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Wearing footwear with good arch support and cushioning
- Making use of orthotic inserts or pads that will help redistribute pressure on the foot
- Physical therapy
If your metatarsalgia is more severe due to complications by other foot conditions, your foot and ankle doctor may advise you to undergo metatarsalgia surgery.
How to Prepare for Metatarsalgia Surgery
When your metatarsalgia has developed into a more severe case and the orthopaedic specialist in Singapore has advised that you need surgery, it’s crucial that you are prepared for what is to come. Here are some recommendations on how you can prepare for your metatarsalgia surgery:
- Learn more about the procedure - When you learn more about the procedure, it helps you make informed decisions about your health and eases any worries that you may have about it. Don’t hesitate to ask your orthopaedic specialist about the surgery.
- Follow your surgeon’s pre-operative instructions - An orthopaedic surgeon will give you specific instructions for pre-operative care leading up to the actual procedure. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully for optimal healing. You may be advised to avoid certain types of food or medications.
- Ask someone to escort you during and after the surgery - You may need assistance in getting home right after the surgery. Therefore, make sure to ask a family member or a friend for help.
- Modify your home to promote your healing - Since you will have to recover at home after your surgery, you have to make sure that your house is modified to ensure your safety as you recover. You can also get items that will help support you through your healing, like a walker or shower chair.
- Arrange transportation - As driving or public transport may be a challenge after the surgery, it’s best that you have someone to drive you home safely. That way, you can ensure comfort as you return home from the clinic.
How Metatarsalgia Surgery Is Performed by an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore
Metatarsalgia surgery is carried out to relieve associated pain and/or reduce deformity and prominence of a joint. As the name suggests, the surgery is performed on the metatarsal bones, which are the long bones in the feet that connect to the toe bones. It may also involve a number of procedures, including bone repositioning and/or bunion surgery. The procedure to correct a bunion deformity is usually performed on the first metatarsal bone behind the big toe, while surgery on the second to fifth metatarsal bones is usually performed to treat ulcers or calluses at the bottom of the foot. You will be placed under general anaesthesia during the surgery, which will typically be completed in less than an hour.
At the end of your metatarsalgia surgery, a gauze bandage will be placed over your foot and will only be removed during your first follow-up visit with the doctor. Skin stitches are usually removed in two to three weeks, depending on the location of the stitches.
Recovering from Metatarsalgia Surgery
Generally, it takes about six to eight weeks for the bone to heal after metatarsalgia surgery. Depending on the nature of your work, the orthopaedic specialist in Singapore will recommend that you take at least a week off work to recover at home with the affected foot elevated after the surgery. Elevating your foot after surgery can help to prevent fluid from collecting in the foot, reducing swelling and pain.
Also, make sure to keep your foot dry while the stitches are in place to prevent infection. The doctor may require you to wear a knee cast and/or use crutches. In some cases, you are recommended to wear a post-operative shoe that allows limited walking on your affected foot.
Possible Risks of Metatarsalgia
When metatarsalgia is left untreated, it may lead to pain in other parts of the same or opposite foot. It could also lead to pain in other parts of the body, including low back or hip, due to limping from foot pain. Should metatarsalgia affect your quality of life and conservative treatments do not work, see a foot and ankle doctor in Singapore as soon as you can.
Why Choose OrthofootMD for Metatarsalgia Treatment?
OrthofootMD is an orthopaedic clinic in Singapore that can offer evidence-based and person-centred treatment for your foot and ankle injuries, including metatarsalgia. Our orthopaedic specialist works to provide quality patient care that meets their unique health needs to aid with recovery. We are also a sports injury clinic that can help provide athletes with suitable interventions for their sports injuries, as well as a treatment plan that prevents re-injury or severe injuries in the long run.
About Dr Gowreeson - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore
Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran is an orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore with a specialist interest in lower limb orthopaedic conditions, including foot injuries like metatarsalgia. He has basic surgical training at Royal Free Hospital, London, United Kingdom, and higher orthopaedic surgical specialty training on the London Northwest Thames rotation. After that, he pursued subspecialty fellowship training at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and sports surgery at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London, United Kingdom. He has worked with numerous patients in different institutes, providing quality, evidence-based treatment. Furthermore, Dr Gowreeson promotes optimal patient care in orthopaedic post-graduate education through organising and collaborating on e-events for free.
Book Your Metatarsalgia Surgery in Singapore
Receiving timely treatment for metatarsalgia is essential to prevent the development of more painful and severe conditions. If you suspect that you may have metatarsalgia, consult our orthopaedic specialist who will assess your condition and recommend the appropriate treatment or surgery.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran
MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed ( Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)
- Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery
- English, Malay, Tamil
- Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, University of Bristol, England
- Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
- Diplomate Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
- Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore
- SICOT PIONEER Founders Award 2020
- 2015 European Foot & Ankle Society ‘Best Podium Presentation’ Award
- 2013 Singapore Orthopaedic Association Junior Travelling Fellowship
- 2012 NHG Critical Talent Special Recognition Award
- 1998 Enid Lindt Prize in Clinical Surgery
- 1995 Public Services Department Full Medical scholarship
Frequently Asked Questions About Metatarsalgia Surgery in Singapore
Typically, you can treat metatarsalgia at home. However, you must seek medical help from a foot and ankle doctor in Singapore when:
- The pain does not improve even with home remedies
- The pain affects your ability to perform day-to-day tasks
- The foot pain becomes too severe or your foot shape changes — this indicates a more serious foot problem that could require urgent treatment
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.