The metatarsal bones are the long bones of the foot that run from the ankle joint up to the toes. Metatarsalgia is an irritation to the underside of the foot towards the ends of these bones, just under the ball of the foot. This irritation occurs because of increased load or stress on the bones, generally bacuse of a collapsed arch or weak supporting muscles.
· Pain under foot at the balls of the feet. Just below the toes.
· Tenderness when touching the top of the bones, from under the foot.
· Pain when flexing the toes upwards.
· Difficulty when walking or weight bearing on the front of the foot.
Metatarsalgia generally occurs when too much pressure is placed on top of the metatarsal bones. This pressure can happen because of a high arch where less surface area of the foot comes into contact with the ground and more weight is transferred through the top of these bones. It may also be due to a pronated foot where excessive pressure is placed through the top of the first and second metatarsal bones. Metatarsalgia can also occur due to a collapsed transverse arch in the foot, placing excess pressure on the second to fourth metatarsal heads. Incorrect footwear with a high heel may also be a cause of metatarsalgia, due to increasing pressure to the front of the foot. Orthotic insoles help by redistributing the pressures of the foot move evenly across its contact points with the ground, or by increasing the surface area.
Depending on the cause of the metatarsalgia either over-the-counter or custom made orthotic insoles may be suitable. In a foot that is slightly over pronated an over-the-counter orthotic insoles may be suitable. In a foot with a collapsed transverse arch some over-the-counter orthotics may work however custom made will probably be more effective. In a supinated foot custom made orthotic insoles will share the most benefits to treating metatarsalgia.
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