Potential causes of metatarsal pain

19 February 2016
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19 February 2016, Comments: 0

Metatarsal pain is often due to various conditions affecting the foot. The pain might originate in the tissues and joints close to the ball of the foot or within the joints. Always bear in mind that the metatarsal pain can range from mild to intense and can drastically affect the ability of the individual to perform activities of daily living.

Morton’s neuroma

Neuromas are basically nerve tissue growths that can develop in any region of the body. Morton’s neuroma usually manifests in the foot in between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones.

The condition involves thickening of a nerve specifically the common intermetatarsal nerve that runs up to the toes. The usual symptoms linked with Morton’s neuroma include burning or sharp pain at the ball of the foot along with numbness or burning in the toes. The condition develops once the common intermetatarsal nerve is compressed and stretched due to tissue irritation or injury and using unusual footwear.

Metatarsal pain

In some cases, a fracture of the sesamoid bones can occur or the bones as well as surrounding tissues become irritated and tender.

The treatment is conservatively done by using shoes that are wide, flat and flexible along with metatarsal padding to reduce the focal pressure applied on the affected nerve tissue on the ball of the foot.

Sesamoiditis

The sesamoid is a bone rooted in a tendon. There are 2 pea-shaped bones within the ball of the foot, below the big toe in which the head of the 1st metatarsal bone connects with the toe.

The usual cause for sesamoiditis is repetitive injury. In some cases, a fracture of the sesamoid bones can occur or the bones as well as surrounding tissues become irritated and tender. Those who are at high risk for the condition include joggers, dancers and those who use high heels regularly. The pain from the condition is experienced under the ball of the foot at the big toe and can be worsened by walking or using tight shoes. The area surrounding the affected sesamoid bone can become inflamed and swollen. The conservative treatment for sesamoiditis includes avoiding footwear that can contribute to the issue and undergoing physical therapy.

Freiberg’s disease

Freiberg’s disease involves the death of tissue or necrosis of certain parts of the bones in the ball of the foot, usually the head of the 2nd metatarsal bone. The condition is due to damage to the bone and quite common among young girls under the growth spurt as well as those who have a shortened bone connecting to the base of the big toe.

In both groups, the bone of the 2nd metatarsal head is susceptible to repetitive stress. The metatarsal pain is often worse once the individual bear weight using the affected foot particularly during forward movement or when using high-heeled shoes. It is also common for the affected joint to become stiff and swollen. Conservative treatment involves wearing low-heeled shoes or those that do not have heels at all. These shoes work by relieving the pressure in the affected joints, tissues and underlying structures.

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