Metatarsalgia is a condition characterised by the inflammation of the forefoot, which causes pain in the metatarsal bones.
In general, this condition is caused by several factors acting together. These include: high heels, overweight/obesity, serious anatomic deformities (cavus foot, hammer toe, Hallux Valgus), rheumatoid arthritis, gout, very intense training or physical activity involving the part affected by the condition (e.g. running, tennis, football, etc.), stress fractures, Morton’s Neuroma (which affects the nerves between the various metatarsals, ankle or inflamed Achilles tendon), osteochondrosis (process of necrosis of the second metatarsal of the foot) and diabetes.
After a careful clinical analysis, the doctor will decide whether it is better to treat the metatarsalgia with a conservative therapy (in the majority of cases) or whether surgery is necessary (only in very serious cases).
Non-surgical therapy consists mainly of small changes in your lifestyle, which can help to ease or even make the symptoms disappear. These include resting the foot affected by metatarsalgia as much as possible, applying ice to help reduce the inflammation, raising the limb to reduce load induced stress, wearing suitable shoes, if possible using anti-shock insoles or orthotics for cavus foot. If the pain is more severe, you should take painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. If you are overweight, then you will be advised to lose weight and to do stress-free sport (e.g. swimming). Finally, for conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or gout, you are advised to keep them under control, as this also helps mitigate the consequences of metatarsalgia.
Surgical treatment of the condition is a solution, which is generally considered only for particularly serious cases (serious deformities of the foot or Morton’s Neuroma), which cannot be treated using the other solutions indicated.