Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
What is metatarsalgia?
All localized pain in the sole of the foot, especially between the arch of the foot and the toes, is clinically known as metatarsalgia. The affected part of the foot, i.e. the medial area of the foot, is the seat of the metatarsal bones; hence the origin of the name of the pathology.
Metatarsalgia is more common in overweight and postmenopausal women, but can also affect other clients. For example, a person who runs regularly may be just as vulnerable to developing noticeable symptoms of metatarsalgia.
Metatarsalgia is an inflammation of the soft tissues that support the metatarsal joints. These tissues, which form the joint capsule of the metatarsals, become very sensitive under the influence of the inflammation caused by metatarsalgia: local pain under pressure (e.g. when walking) is characteristic of the condition.
The patient who suffers from it usually bears witness to a pebble-like feeling in his or her shoe, or to walking on needles. It should be kept in mind that there are different ways to relieve metatarsalgia, and your Podiatrist is the professional to consult for personalized advice.
The different types of metatarsalgia:
static metatarsalgia : the pain of this type of metatarsalgia occurs when walking on the spot or when the Patient is in a stationary (standing) position.
Neurological metatarsalgia : also known as Morton’s neuroma, neurological metatarsalgia is pain caused by irritation of a nerve that often experiences too much pressure and friction between the metatarsals.
Inflammatory metatarsalgia : Arthritis, osteoarthritis or other pathologies known to generate inflammation in the foot can lead a Patient to suffer from inflammatory metatarsalgia.
traumatic metatarsalgia : as the name suggests, a trauma such as an accident, fracture or sprain is involved.
dystrophic growth metatarsalgia : this metatarsalgia targets young athletes in periods of growth.
Symptoms and causes of metatarsalgia
The symptoms of metatarsalgia can quickly become more severe if it is not taken seriously. Daily activities such as walking, playing sports, standing and even driving a car can be compromised by the often considerable pain caused by metatarsalgia. This is why it is important to consult your Podiatrist early if you suspect you may have metatarsalgia, in order to prevent any aggravation.
Effective methods to relieve metatarsalgia exist, and a Podiatrist will be able to refer you to the most appropriate one according to your symptoms and the causes of your metatarsalgia.
- Diffuse burning sensation in the foot
- Numbness in the front of the foot
- Swelling on the top of the foot
- Toes curved into claws
- Local pain during manual pressure
- Pebble printing in the shoe
- Sensation of walking on needles
Many causes come into play when assessing what led to the development of metatarsalgia. Here are the most common ones encountered in the clinic :
- Hammer toe
- Wearing inappropriate footwear
- Lack of joint range of motion in flexion at the ankle level
- Substantial and rapid weight gain
- Excessive practice of an impact sport
- Hollow foot
How to prevent metatarsalgia
In some cases, metatarsalgia is inevitable. However, it is advisable to put all the chances on your side, especially if you are affected by some of the predisposing factors mentioned above.
The best way to prevent metatarsalgia is to make a good choice of footwear, making sure you don’t overuse high-heeled shoes and to choose a shoe that is well adapted to the width of your foot. Your shoe must be solid, cushioned and above all must not cause pain when you wear it.
In this way, you avoid unnecessary pressure in the metatarsal area, which greatly protects you from the inconveniences related to metatarsalgia.
The treatment of metatarsalgia by your Podiatrist
The first recommendation your Podiatrist makes to you is to change your habits to avoid any pressure on your foot. This is the best way to quickly relieve metatarsalgia.
A treatment plan is then proposed, generally following the prescription of pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, therapeutic bandages, foot orthotics or cortisone injections.
In rarer cases, such as Morton’s neuroma, this medical treatment may sometimes not be sufficient. This is where surgery may be prescribed as a last resort.2021