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If you’re experiencing pain in the ball of your foot, you could well be suffering from metatarsalgia. As its name suggests, this common – and frustrating – foot problem affects the metatarsal phalangeal joints (the ball of the foot). It can cause pain in any part of this area, including the joints, capsules, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and even the skin. It’s most likely to occur in the middle of the ball of your foot or near the bottom of your big toe.

Your metatarsal bones work hard every day to help support your body, and the area surrounding them is put under pressure every time you stand up or move around. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the balls of your feet are so prone to becoming painful and sore.

Metatarsalgia tends to develop gradually. If left untreated, it’ll get progressively worse, and ultimately, it could severely restrict your mobility.

With that in mind, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the risk factors for metatarsalgia, as well as why prescription orthotics (i.e. tailor-made shoe inserts) are such an effective way to relieve the pain.

High-Impact Physical Activity and Unsupportive Shoes Increase the Risk

The reason why so many runners and sports enthusiasts develop metatarsalgia is that they spend a great deal of time engaged in high-impact physical activities. If you’re pounding the pavements or playing an intense game of squash, for example, your feet strike the ground repeatedly and with considerable force. The metatarsal area is likely to be exposed to excessive friction and pressure, especially if your footwear isn’t particularly supportive.

What’s more, it’s not just poorly designed sports shoes that can contribute to the pain of metatarsalgia. The condition is also associated with restrictive, high-heeled shoes. Stilettoes and similar styles lift your heels above the level of your toes, forcing the balls of your feet to endure much more stress than would normally be the case. In addition, the front of your foot will be too cramped if your shoes are narrow and pointed, leading to further discomfort.

Some physical factors also increase people’s chances of suffering from metatarsalgia. Being overweight puts your feet under too much pressure, while the balls of your feet lose their natural cushioning as you age. Abnormalities such as flat feet, which lead to an abnormal distribution of pressure across the soles, also increase the risk of pain.

Different People Experience Different Kinds of Pain

It’s important to be aware that the pain of metatarsalgia takes a variety of forms. You could feel any of the following sensations in the ball of your foot:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Shooting pains
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling

In addition to pain and inflammation, you may notice damage to the skin on the ball of your foot. Areas that are subjected to a lot of friction and pressure often develop calluses.

Orthotics for Metatarsalgia Reduce Pressure to Relieve Pain

The key to treating metatarsalgia successfully is to reduce the amount of pressure and friction to which the ball of the foot is exposed. Well-cushioned, properly fitted footwear with low heels will make your feet comfortable. But for maximum relief, you can always ask our podiatrists for custom-made orthotics, which can be inserted into most kinds of shoes.

‘Semi-rigid corrective devices worn in supportive shoes are an effective treatment for metatarsalgia,’ the health resource WebMD emphasises. Orthotics are so helpful because they direct pressure away from painful spots while ensuring that feet are correctly supported.

We use gait analysis and pressure analysis systems when diagnosing and treating metatarsalgia and other foot problems. Thanks to this combination of cutting-edge technology and podiatric expertise, you can be confident that your orthotics will be as beneficial as possible. After all, they’re designed with your feet and your issues in mind.

For effective metatarsalgia treatment from our London podiatry team, please call Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.