Over Christmas vacation I looked at lots of feet. (Looking at feet is a popular conversation starter at parties it seems…as soon as people find out that I am studying to be a pedorthist, the shoes come off and it is time for show and tell. I don’t mind as long as I can get a chance to wash my hands before it is time to eat.)

Two of the people who showed me their feet were suffering from Metatarsal pain. Any type of foot pain can be a real problem, especially because it is aggravated by every step you take, but one of the worst types is Metatarsal pain. The proper term for this issue is metatarsalgia which is an important sounding way to say: “The front part of your foot hurts”

The metatarsal (MT) bones are the long bones that connect your toes to the rest of your foot. There are five of them (no surprise there, one for each toe). The bones are about as thick as your little finger and a couple of inches long. They have a slight downward curve which enables the ball of your foot to touch the ground at the same time as your heel. Each metatarsal bone has a “head” which is a small area of thickened bone at the end closest to your toes. They also have a “base” which is the part where the MT connects to the other bones of your feet. One other thing you should know about MT’s is that they are numbered 1-5 (the big toe side is #1; the pinky-toe is #5).

People who have trouble with their MTs will often complain of “burning” and “tingling” in the area of their MT heads. Shoes that are too tight around the front of the foot, have too high of a heel or are too firm under the foot tend to make these sensations even worse.

Huge debates are waged in the world of pedorthics about the causes and cures of metatarsalgia…I am not going to even try to be the definitive word on the root of this problem. But in my next posting I will discuss two case studies that demonstrate common instances of MT pain. (They just happen to correspond with two particular pairs of feet I looked over at Christmas time…but don’t worry; the names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Here is a little closing joke about one of the most famous MT injuries of all time (it is referring to David Beckham, in case you don’t know)


Walk Well.

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