person holding inflamed ball of footYou want to get out and enjoy our wonderful weather, but it feels like your walking on hot coals or pebbles. Ouch!

As a Seattle podiatrist, I don’t think you’re from a weird cult or strange. The pain and pebble-like feeling means you probably have a condition called metatarsalgia (pronounced (met-uh-tahr-SAL-juh). I know it sounds bad, but don’t worry it’s a common foot problem.

Metatarsalgia is an inflammation of the ball of the foot and many things can cause it. In addition to the pain and the pebble in your shoe feeling you may also experience tingling or numbness in your toes and a sharp, shooting pain particularly when your feet are flexed.

You’ll likely notice it more when you’re active and less so when you lay off your feet.

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

  • Having a high-arched foot or a very long bone in your toe.

  • Running or another high impact sport particularly if you haven’t done it in a long time.

  • Foot conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, stress fractures, and Morton’s Neuroma can make it more likely to happen.

  • Women - shoes that are too pointy, too high, or with a tight toe box.

  • Men – rigid-soled work boots

  • Wearing flip flops too often (no shock absorption)

  • Working on hard surfaces – cashiers, construction workers, road workers

What Can Be Done To Treat It?

Depending on the cause there are a variety of ways to treat it.

  1. Make sure your shoes are supportive and not worn out. Check out my video “How to Test Any Shoe for Stability” before you shop.

  2. Wear the right shoe for the activity you engage in. eg. Court shoes for tennis, running shoes for running

  3. Rest – as hard as this may be to stop your favorite activity, you’re going to need to sit out the next family hike to heal

  4. Apply ice several times a day

  5. At the podiatrist’s office – depending on what I find when I examine you I may recommend a metatarsal pad to take the stress off the ball of your foot. In addition, if you have poor biomechanics I’ll likely recommend either an over-the-counter shoe insert or I’ll make you a pair of custom orthotics.

If you have ball of foot pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

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