When you put weight on the ball of your foot, do you feel like you're stepping on a pebble? This type of pain is often referred to as metatarsalgia. It's an inflammation and irritation of the tissues around your metatarsal bones. Metatarsalgia has several possible causes and is typically treatable. Read on to learn more!
Causes of Metatarsalgia
One of the most common causes of metatarsalgia, or the feeling of stepping on a stone, is a condition called Morton's neuroma. In this condition, a noncancerous tumor grows around one of the nerves leading through your forefoot. When you step down, the tumor puts pressure on the nerve, which is what leads to this strange sensation that you're stepping on something.
Morton's neuroma is usually the result of wearing improper footwear that causes you to put too much pressure on your forefoot. Heels are often to blame. Sometimes, athletes may develop Morton's neuroma as a result of spending too much time running or jumping on their toes.
Metatarsalgia can also be caused by a stress fracture in one of the tarsal bones that run through your forefoot. In this case, the sensation of stepping on something is also accompanied by feelings of pain. Stress fractures are most common in distance runners, hikers, and other long-distance athletes.
Treatments for Metatarsalgia
When Morton's neuroma is to blame for your discomfort, you can sometimes treat the condition conservatively and without surgery -- if you catch the condition early. Switching to more comfortable, allowing shoes and resting your foot for a few days may cause symptoms to subside. If this does not work, your podiatrist may administer steroid injections to help bring the swelling down and make you more comfortable. If the injections do not work either, you may need surgery to remove the tumor and thickened tissue.
If your metatarsalgia is caused by a stress fracture, you will need to take some time off from physical activity and probably wear a splint -- if not a cast -- for a few weeks. Once the fracture has healed, your podiatrist can work with you to reduce the risk of reinjury. You will need to ease back into your training program, wear shoes with plenty of cushion, and possibly do some physical therapy.
If you feel as though you are stepping on a stone, don't just ignore this sensation. Visit a podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. For more information, check out a website like https://www.familyfootcenter.net/.