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The Stone Bruise: Metatarsalgia

When we get home at the end of the workday, one of the first things that many of us do is take off our shoes. We might also rub the bottom of our feet to try releasing their tension and aches.

But if you rub one of your feet because you are experiencing ongoing soreness or even pain in its ball, that may mean you are suffering from Metatarsalgia, or sometimes colloquially referred to as a “stone bruise.”


What is Metatarsalgia?

A not uncommon condition, Metatarsalgia is pain and inflammation that usually affects the bones and joints on the ball of the foot. It manifests at the head of the three middle metatarsal bones, where the middle three toes meet the ball of the foot. Often the first metatarsal bone (big toe) is affected too.

Metatarsalgia is caused when the head of a metatarsal bone is pushed against a second, pressing and irritating the nerve between. The problem tends to worsen when weight is applied to the foot, as this increases the pressure on the bones rubbing together and on the nerve caught between them.

The most common symptom of metatarsalgia is pain, which may be a sharp aching or even burning sensation that feels worse when standing and moving. You will likely feel it in your toes and may even suffer a tingling sensation.

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

There are several causes of metatarsalgia, some physical and some medical. Many active people are affected, since it can be triggered by high impact physical activities like running and jumping. Also, such activity combined with footwear that does not fit properly is also a common trigger.

Other most common triggers for Metatarsalgia are:

  • An overweight condition, creating extra foot strain
  • Stress fractures in the toe bones or metatarsals
  • Age, since the fats protecting the foot become thinner as we age
  • Foot and toe shape, so a high arch or longer second toe, either of which will add pressure

Medical conditions can also lead to metatarsalgia, such as bunions, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, build-up of fluid in the foot, and Morton’s neuroma.

How to Prevent and Treat Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia tends to be a mild condition, which can be treated with ice, rest, and addressing the cause. If you lead an active lifestyle or play sports regularly, be careful not to add additional strain to your feet and ease into any new activities gradually. Also, whether working out or just walking, make sure to have proper fitting shoes with enough support to avoid undue pressure on the forefoot.

If discontinuation of the suspected cause isn’t helping relieve your symptoms, make sure you follow up with your Lansdale foot doctor, so we can assess your condition and correctly identify the problem.


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Jeffrey Wachtel has written 577 post in this blog.