Forefoot Pain (Metatarsalgia)

Any sort of pain in your forefoot or the ball of your foot can be a terribly aggravating experience!

Given how often you place pressure on the front of your foot when walking, running, and performing other activities, such problems are quite common. Often, the key to best treatment is properly identifying the cause and taking the right steps to address it.

What Causes Forefoot Pain? What Does it Feel Like?

The term “metatarsalgia” refers to most forms of pain and inflammation that occur in the front or ball of the foot. Symptoms can vary from case to case, but may include:

  • Pain – often just behind the toes – that is often described as “sharp,” “burning,” or sometimes “tingling.” This discomfort tends to worsen with activity, but improves with rest.
  • A feeling that you are stepping on a pebble, or that something is in your shoe.
  • Occasional numbness.

Not all symptoms have to be present, mind you. If you notice any of the above sensations, that is more than enough reason to call us!

Metatarsalgia is not really a condition in itself, but more a symptom that can arise from a number of different conditions. One or more factors can be at play, and addressing them properly is the most effective route toward solving the problem.

Several factors that can influence ball of foot pain include:

  • Overuse through Activity – Your feet absorbing excessive, often repetitive forces during running, sports, and other activities.
  • Poorly Fitting Shoes – Footwear that forces weight against the front of the foot (e.g. high heels) or does not properly support it.
  • Abnormalities in Foot Structure – Having high arches, a second toe longer than other toes, or other configurations that can lead to excess pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • Morton’s Neuroma – A benign growth of tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes, that is often due to excess stress in that area.
  • Excess Weight – More weight means more pressure against the forefoot during movement.

Remember: more than one factor can have an influence. Addressing only one but not another may not lead to the results you are looking for.

Forefoot Pain (Metatarsalgia)

Treating Ball of Foot Pain

The first step to effective treatment is, of course, identifying just what is going on.

We can often get to the root(s) of the problem via a physical examination and talking with you about when your pain manifests and how it affects your life. Occasionally, we might request an X-ray or other imaging test if we have concerns about something we want to rule out, such as a fracture.

Based on our findings, we will recommend a treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:

  • Rest – Almost always recommended to allow injured tissues the opportunity to heal.
  • Icing – Applying ice packs (wrapped in a thin towel) several times per day, up to 20 minutes per session.
  • Medications – For relieving pain and inflammation.
  • Changes to Footwear – Emphasizing support and better redistribution of weight.
  • Custom Orthotics – For more specialized support and redistribution of forces.
  • Changes to Activities – To keep you active while placing less stress on sensitive areas.
  • Use of Special Equipment – Such as metatarsal pads or splints to provide cushioning and/or protection.

Only in very rare situations might surgery need to be considered. If it is, we will be sure to fully discuss your options with you.

Get the Help You Need for Your Foot Pain

The longer metatarsalgia is allowed to continue, the more likely it will become a worse and longer-lasting problem. Let our experts help you address matters now and in a way that will get you back to full action as quickly and effectively as possible.

Call our Dallas office at (214) 660-0777 to schedule an appointment.