What is wrong with my foot?

You have got metatarsalgia which means pain in the ball of the foot. This may affect just one joint or several joints. These painful joints may be too prominent on the sole of the foot and the surrounding skin can develop corns or callus.

Why has this happened?

There are several reasons why metatarsalgia occurs. It may be because of other foot deformities such as bunions or toe deformities. It is often because the affected bone is either too long or angled too sharply making it prominent on the sole of the foot.

Do I have to have an operation?

Pads, foot orthoses/insoles and special shoes can be used to provide comfort and redistribute pressure away from the painful joint(s). If these measures fail and the joint is still uncomfortable then an operation will usually be recommended.

What will the operation involve?

The operation will involve breaking a bone behind the toe to slightly shorten or elevate it. The fractured bone is held in place with a screw, which is not removed unless it causes problems. The surgery is performed under general or local anaesthetic. Both feet can be operated on at the same time if required but this does further limit your mobility during the first month after surgery. The foot will be heavily bandaged after the operation.

How successful is the operation?

90% of people are very satisfied with the results of the operation as their foot feels a lot more comfortable.  

Are there any risks associated with the operation?

As with all operations there are risks associated with the anaesthetic and surgery. Occasionally some patients may have complications such as infection, prolonged swelling, or recurrence of the condition. Following surgery it can take the foot a good 6 months to fully settle down.

What will happen after the operation?

The operation is usually day case but you may need to stay overnight in hospital. The Podiatric surgeon will discuss this with you. You will be given special shoes to wear over your bandages and you must wear these whenever you want to walk. The shoes must be worn for 4 weeks. You usually do not need to use crutches.

What happens when I leave hospital?

For the first 48 hours you will rest in bed with your legs elevated and should take the painkillers prescribed for you. You will be asked to do some foot exercises during this time. The bandages will be left on for 2 weeks. You will be given an Orthopaedic and Fracture clinic appointment to have the bandages removed. You will be able to return to work from 2-6 weeks after the operation, depending on whether you need to stand or walk around a lot for your job. You will not be able to drive until you come out of the post-operative shoe.