Metatarsalgia is not a prehistoric dinosaur, nor is it a distant land in some science fiction novel. It’s really a general term used for pain on the top or the ball of the foot. It’s a condition associated with several different foot conditions and has a number of different causes, including obesity, pregnancy, flat feet, and poorly fitting footwear.
Common causes of metatarsalgia include:
- Poorly fitting footwear, including high-heeled shoes and shoes that are too narrow or thin-soled.
- Diseases such as diabetes that cause thinning of the fatty padding at the ball of the feet.
- Injury, stress fracture, arthritis, callus formation and Morton’s Neuroma (see above).
- Thinning of the fat pads on the soles of the feet due to age.
- Sometimes metatarsalgia occurs for no apparent reason.
A thorough examination is usually required to determine the exact cause of metatarsalgia, so don’t go thinking you have it just by self-diagnosing. The internet is a great source for a lot of information, but it can also be a place of fear-mongering.
Options vary, depending in the cause of the condition. Treatment can include reduction of any callus formation, prescription orthotics, shock absorbing insoles, rest, advice on properly fitting shoes, or weight reduction. In some cases, surgery may be required.
Like most unwanted situations, whether it is falling down or avoiding the embarrassment that comes after falling down, prevention is always the best measure. The best prevention of metatarsalgia is achieved by avoiding the conditions that can bring it about. So sorry ladies those high heels have to go, or as a compromise, at least reduce the number of times you wear them. If you’re overweight, you should try exercising and eat healthier if you are not doing so already (this, of course, can have many other health benefits, too!), and those who have medical conditions such as diabetes and arthritis should seek treatment.