Since the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is nearing, I thought we would talk about a common foot ailment found among basketball players – both professionals and amateurs. It’s called metatarsalgia. It’s a type of neuralgia or pain found in one or more nerves in the ball of your foot.
Metatarsalgia occurs when the nerves that run between the metatarsal bones in the ball of your foot are compressed. With every step, the nerves are pushed and rubbed between the bones, causing them to become inflamed and painful. So, the more you walk or run, the more inflammation and pain occur.
Eventually, scar tissue forms to protect the nerve fibers in the surrounding nerve tissue. Metatarsalgia can develop under one or all of the metatarsal heads; although it’s more common in the first metatarsal head or the ball of the foot just below the big toe. Some people describe the pain like “walking on pebbles,” which may explain why it’s also known as stone bruise.
High-impact sports like basketball cause the balls of your feet to absorb an abnormal amount of force and stress, especially from all the running and jumping. That’s why basketball players have a greater risk of developing metatarsalgia.
Other factors that can cause metatarsalgia include:
- Wearing shoes that are too small or narrow, so the toes are compressed within the toe box.
- A loss of fatty tissue in the ball of the foot, resulting in less padding in the area of the metatarsals.
Some symptoms of metatarsalgia are:
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot.
- Sharp or shooting pain in the balls of your feet and/or your toes.
- Numbness or tingling in the balls of your feet and/or your toes.
- Pain that worsens when you stand, walk or run.
- Resting your foot. Avoid high-impact sports until your foot heals.
- Applying ice to the affected area for 15 – 20 minutes several times a day.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Wearing properly fitted shoes with a wide toe box.
- Using metatarsal pads in your shoes to reduce forefoot pressure.
- Wearing arch supports like ezWalker® Custom Performance Orthotics. These custom orthotics minimize the stress on your metatarsal bones by supporting your arches and reducing the pressure on the balls of your feet. ezWalker® orthotics are customized to the contours of your feet and are biomechanically designed to enhance your gait, so you’ll have less stress and strain as you walk. You’ll also experience pain relief in not only your feet, but in your knees, hips and lower back, too.
See your doctor if your pain persists. If metatarsalgia is left untreated, it can cause your pain to spread to other parts of the same or opposite foot. Plus, you may experience pain in your hips or lower back due to the limping caused by the foot pain.
For more information about ezWalker® Custom Performance Orthotics, visit our website. ezWalker® Custom Orthotics are ultra thin and ¾ length, so they fit easily into your athletic shoes for custom-made comfort. Order your pair today to keep you off the sidelines and on the court.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Note: If you follow these guidelines and your forefoot pain persists, you may have a more serious condition. See your doctor for a more complete diagnosis and treatment.