The term metatarsalgia is used for any type of pain localized under the metatarsals. The metatarsals are commonly thought of as the “ball of the foot”. This can be a very complex topic and may involve muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels or and bones.
Symptoms of metatarsalgia includes pain under the metatarsals. Pain can occur at anytime, with or without activity.
Diagnosis is usually made by clinical examination after x-rays are taken to rule out some of the other conditions such as fractures. Other diagnoses that need to be ruled out are avascular necrosis, osteoarthritis, stress fracture, osteomyelitis, gout, tendonitis, bursitis, neuritis or a neuroma to name a few.
Podiatric Care may include using anti-inflammatory oral medications or an injection of medication and local anesthetic to reduce the inflammation in the area. When you go to your doctor, x-rays are usually required to evaluate the structure of your foot and ankle to ensure no other problems exist in this area. They may advise you on different shoewear or prescribe a custom made orthotic to try and control the foot structure especially if you have excessive pronation. Sometimes patients are sent to Physical Therapy for treatment as well. To aid in relief of pressure points, some simple padding techniques can be utilized. A simple pad called a metatarsal pad may be enough to relieve this pain. Many patients respond to these conservative measures once the area of irritation is removed.
Surgery is rarely done strictly for treatment of metatarsalgia, unless there is some underlying structural deformity.