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Metatarsalgia and Other Foot Swelling Issues

Alix J. Shutello  

It is safe to say that for the last two months I have not been training. I have been dealing with the heat and cross training by cycling, swimming, tennis, and yoga.  Randomly, when I wake up in the morning it feels like there is a bubble in my right foot. I’ve been ignoring of course, because it doesn’ t hurt….or at least it didn’t until this morning.  

When I got out of be this morning my foot hurt and the “bubble” on the bottom of my foot was more like a balloon.  

My right foot


Comparison of my left vs. right foot


As you can see, my right foot is looking a little funky.  So, like any athlete, I chose to try to diagnose myself first before going to the doctor….because I’ll need to before I start training for my next half marathon next week.  

So you go online and type in “pain in ball of foot.” You get a lot of things, including the site,, and you’ll see that there 422 causes of foot swelling…great.   

I decided not to stay on wrongdiagnosis but concentrated on looking at metatarsalgia, or 2nd metatarsal pre-dislocation syndrome. After reading about the condition this “appeared” right.  In reading about a condition on another site about a person with seemingly the same problem, this person, Pete, had pain and swelling under the second toe of one of his feet.   

Technically, according to, Pete  “is bearing more weight on the second joint that it was mechanically designed to handle. In his case he has a small bunion. It was just big enough that the first joint (behind the big toe) was bearing less weight than it was designed for. It is a side effect of bunions and a few other conditions. The joint capsule responded by blowing up like a little water balloon. In this case a painful water balloon that hurts from the inside.”  

And of course, there are videos galore on how to treat metatarsalgia.  I took a look at to decrease some pain. However, but I need to go see my podiatrist or physcial therapist.  

And so should you…..


7 thoughts on “Metatarsalgia and Other Foot Swelling Issues

  1. Aside from trauma, forefoot injuries can result from biomechanical problems in other areas of the body. The first item to evaluate is loss of mobility in the calf muscles, achilles tendon and ankle joint. Restriction in those areas cause compensations in the mid-foot and forefoot, which can produce injury of course. I advise that you get a PT to evaluate your ankle mobility and flexibility. They can prescribe exercises and do hands-on techniques to improve the mobility. There are other areas that should be evaluated as well – shoes, training schedule and routes, and other issues up the leg. But this is a good place to start.

    Posted by Jeff Ostrowski | July 6, 2010, 5:16 pm
  2. Thanks Jeff, I will be going to the podiatrist on Friday. There’s a PT right around the corner from the podiatrist!

    Posted by tighthams | July 7, 2010, 11:13 am
  3. I was wondering if you had ever resolved your issue with your foot? I have the exact same symptoms and was diagnosed with metatarsalgia. I went to the local foot place to be fitted for a new pair of orthotics. They help when I wear them, but I cannot walk barefoot anymore. I have been wearing them for close to 2 months now and also icing my foot on occasion in baths of ice water. I try to rest them occasionally as well, but it is hard with 3 small children. I am scared that this condition will last forever! If anyone knows anything about how long the symptoms are supposed to last, I would greatly appreciate it! Or if you could tell me if your symptoms have subsided and how long it took? Thanks so much!!!

    Posted by Shannon | July 17, 2010, 4:32 pm
    • Shannon: turns out I don’t have anything major at all and my podiatrist was not very forthcoming with anything I could be doing proactively. That said I’ve started stretching and massaging my foot. I noticed that my right calf is MUCH tighter than my right to a very noticable degree. Therefore, I’ve started stretching a lot more and I am noticing a decrease in the swelling. Reducing my running to only a couple of miles at a clip helps. I cannot run competitively if my feet are not right. I’ll try to do another article on this soon!

      Posted by tighthams | July 19, 2010, 7:48 pm
  4. Wow, this hit me last night, and within 30 seconds my foot looked exactly like your photo above. At first, I thought I’d been bitten by a spider or something, and was somewhat freaking out.

    Thankfully, I found your blog which gave me a measure of peace-of-mind (now I can put a name to this). I’ve been icing and taking anti-inflamatories, and hoping this subsides enough that I’m able to go to work on Monday. Unlike your picture, however, I also developed what looks like a bruise on the side of the joint, so I apparently have some bleeding in there as well.

    I’m curious. Your doc didn’t recommend a custom orthotic, or ball-of-foot cushion/support? I’m going to try conservative methods first, but I suspect I may check on these latter options as well. I’m a moderate walker/runner–not an athlete by any stretch.

    Posted by Bobby | August 27, 2011, 2:21 pm
    • Hi there. I had orthotics before this happened. I have to say stretching my calves makes a huge difference. Now that I am training for a marathon I notice that right ball of my foot gets a little puffy after some runs and I’ll it. It’s worth it. As for the bleeding I am wondering about your shoe. What kind of shoe are you wearing? I don’t care about the brand, but is it a stability shoe? OR and I have to say this made a HUGE difference….is the shoe your regular shoe size? I say this because either getting a wide width shoe or a shoe a half size larger than you normally wear makes a big difference with bruising.

      Posted by Alix Shutello | August 29, 2011, 3:08 am


  1. Pingback: Metatarsalgia and Other Foot Swelling Issues « Running Illustrated | Foot Hurts - August 8, 2010

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