Wearing the wrong shoes, improper insoles or improper foot posture can cause or contribute to metatarsal growth problems. Although these symptoms can point to many other foot conditions such as fungal infections, corns, or calluses, etc., proper diagnosis is the first step towards treatment and recovery. The condition occurs when the ball of the foot bends or twists as it moves through the metatarsal area. As a result, the toes, forefeet, and other bones and joints are pressed or injured, leading to pain, swelling, deformity and instability.
Most often, it's not the shoes, but rather the tension that a person applies to his or her feet that puts excessive pressure on their metatarsals and feet. A weak arch support system and/or tight insoles not only limit natural flexibility but also increase the internal pressure required to support the arch. This increased internal pressure leads to deformities and pain.
Also known as "ball of feet," metatarsals are the thickest part of the feet. "Metatarsalgia" as it's commonly known in medical circles is the abnormal development of the metatarsals in the feet. It's most common in ladies who frequently wear high heels and more fashionable shoes which unfortunately often have a cramped toe box.
When the feet are not supported properly, the body compensates by over-utilizing muscles and joints. Arthritis, weakened ligaments and muscles, weak arch support systems, etc. can all contribute to a person's pain. Aftermarket insoles, custom orthotics, and/or support braces, can help correct some of the biomechanical issues involved in foot function, such as excessive forward rotation of the spine, and can therefore lessen pain, stress and force placed on the metatarsals.
For many sufferers, the initial pain relief may come with a mild ankle sprain. The pain may be expressed as tingling or warmth to the inside of the ankle, or both. Applying a cold pack should provide temporary pain relief, while resting the injured part. However, if the injury is more severe, or the sprain has caused partial dislocation of one or more of the ankle bones, then a doctor should be consulted.
Custom orthotics and shoes for bunions and hammertoes help to realign them so that the ball of the foot isn't forced out of alignment with the rest of the body. Custom insoles will contour to the shape of the wearer's foot, reducing or eliminating excess pressure on the ball of the foot and relieving pain. Custom fitted shoes are especially helpful for those who wear high-heeled shoes, as excess stress on the ball of the foot can cause serious foot conditions, such as Morton's Neuroma, bunions, or metatarsalgia.
It may also be helpful to use natural remedies for foot pain relief, such as a warm foot bath, hot foot massage, or a combination of both. These can be used at a time and in a methodical manner to reduce pain without interrupting daily living. Natural remedies can include a hot foot bath made with baking soda dissolved in water, a cup of vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of lime juice and a half glass of water, or a cup of Epsom salt, wrapped in an old towel and placed in the affected area. Other methods include soaking the foot in a tub of warm water and applying a heating pad or cold compress. Some people have found success applying ice to the painful foot joints for several minutes, which can temporarily relieve pain. Once the pain has gone, a person may consider purchasing a more comfortable pair of shoes—paired with an ideal set of pain relieving and preventing shoe insoles.
It is important to have your doctor check your feet regularly so that he can spot any signs of excessive strain, deformity, or infection. He can also test you to make sure you are using the appropriate shoes for your feet, and to see how well you are able to maintain your balance and gait. If you are experiencing more severe pain or are noticing other symptoms such as a ball of swollen skin near the ball of the foot, you should contact your doctor immediately to find out if there is an underlying cause. A foot examination will help your doctor to rule out a possible infection or fracture, and will give him the ability to carefully diagnose the source of the problem.
By keeping a close eye on your feet, paying attention to the way you walk, stand, and move around, you can help prevent damage to the tissues and bones that support your feet. PowerStep offers the best insoles designed specifically for ball of foot pain, featuring a built-in metatarsal pad, or "met pad".