Metatarsalgia is a common condition characterised by pain and inflammation at the ball of the foot. Almost anyone can develop this condition, but you might be at greater risk if you:
- Regularly engage in high-impact sports, such as running and jumping
- Wear high heels, ill-fitting shoes and athletic shoes that lack support and padding
- Suffer from conditions that affect the foot, such as hammer toe, calluses and inflammatory arthritis
- Are overweight or obese
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 your foot doctor 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, your doctor will examine your foot in both standing and sitting positions. Your doctor will also ask you some questions to understand your lifestyle, including:
- What is the nature of your work?
- How much time you spend being on your feet daily?
- What type of shoes you usually wear?
- Have you started on a new physical activity recently?
Your doctor may also order an X-ray to rule out other causes of foot pain. If you have any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, make sure to inform your doctor as well.
Book your Metatarsalgia Surgery in Singapore Now
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, speak to foot specialist Dr Gowreeson who will assess your condition and recommend you the appropriate treatment or surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Metatarsalgia Surgery in Singapore
1. What causes metatarsalgia?
The most common cause of metatarsalgia is engaging in sports activities that exert pressure on the metatarsal bones at the front of your foot. Constantly putting strain on your foot can increase the risk of inflammation in the metatarsal region.
Other causes of metatarsalgia may include ill-fitting footwear, high heels without arch support, foot abnormalities, obesity and diseases affecting the foot, such as arthritis, gout and bursitis.
2. Does metatarsalgia go away on its own?
In some cases, metatarsalgia goes away on its own after a few days. However, if you encounter severe pain that persists for more than two weeks, or notice swelling around the affected area, you should see your doctor immediately.
3. Can metatarsalgia be treated without surgery?
Yes, conservative treatment methods like resting your foot, switching out your ill-fitting footwear, avoiding high heels and taking a prescribed pain reliever should help to relieve the pain. Your doctor may also recommend you to work with a physical therapist to guide you through exercises that help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected area. An occupational therapist may also be able to fit you with custom-made orthotics, such as a metatarsal pad or arch support to relieve pain.
However, if the pain persists despite conservative treatment, you may need to undergo metatarsalgia surgery.
4. What can I expect during metatarsalgia surgery?
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. The surgery may 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 are 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 the 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.
5. How long will it take to recover 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, you are recommended to take at least a week off work to recover at home with the operated foot elevated after the surgery. Elevating your foot after surgery can help to prevent fluid from collecting in the foot, reducing swelling and pain.
6. How should I care for my surgical wounds after metatarsalgia surgery?
Make sure to keep your foot dry while the stitches are in place to prevent infection. Your doctor may also require you to wear a knee cast and/or use crutches for six to eight weeks. You may also be advised to wear a post operative shoe to allow limited walking on your affected foot.
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 Tok Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.