Metatarsalgia: Burning and Painful Feet

People who have painful, burning feet most likely have metatarsalgia. It can be very frustrating to suffer from this condition, as it can have many underlying causes. There are things you can do to protect your feet, but you can’t always head off pain in the ball of their foot.

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is an umbrella term for anything that causes burning and pain in your forefoot. You may notice bruising or inflammation, but these symptoms are not always present. Instead you should look for other symptoms. You may not be able to bear weight on your feet as you normally would, especially during physical activity. You may experience sharp or shooting pains that run up your leg when you put too much pressure on your feet. There may be numbness, burning, or the feeling as though you are walking on pebbles. The pain you feel may be localized to one specific area, or you may feel it all along the metatarsal heads. Each case of metatarsalgia is different and unique, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis.

What Causes the Burning?

There is no one specific cause of this burning pain. However, the main similarity in all of the “causes” is that the foot is not moving the way that it should. As a result you will find yourself with pain and possibly inflammation. Some contributing factors include:

  • Being overweight. The more weight your feet have to bear the more likely they are to suffer mechanical issues.
  • Wearing improperly fitting shoes. When your toes are crammed together in your shoes it’s more likely that you will develop a neuroma or another condition that causes pain.
  • Other conditions, including gout, arthritis, hammertoes, or a bunion.
  • Stress fractures to the toes. You may compensate by putting less stress on the toes and more on the ball of your foot.
  • In some cases there is no apparent reason for the pain. It can be frustrating, but we can usually find ways to resolve your discomfort.

Treating Metatarsalgia

Since there are many possible factors contributing to your pain it’s important to pinpoint the main one. Treatment won’t be the same for everyone. Some of the best things you can do are preventative. For instance, maintaining a healthy weight and wearing shoes that don’t force your toes together are good ways to keep pressure off the ball of your foot. Treating the initial condition will be different for each case, but treating your pain is usually pretty universal. You should rest your feet and use ice packs on them to reduce any swelling that may occur and relieve the pain in your burning feet. There are certain medications that your doctor can prescribe to ease discomfort. Shoe inserts or custom-made orthoticscan also be beneficial for people who are suffering from pain in the ball of your foot. Try to be patient with your treatment regimen, but if you’ve exhausted all of your options you may wish to consider surgery.

Where to Get Professional Help

For more information on treating metatarsalgia pain call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our North Andover office.