The most common location of pain is under the head of the second metatarsal bone behind the second toe area, and under the first metatarsal head just behind the bottom surface of the big toe. Also common in this area are stress fractures, which usually cause swelling on the top of the foot. If there is pain between the toes radiating into the toes and then into the arch, a Morton's neuroma (or enlarged nerve) at the bottom of the foot may be present.
Another common area of pain are bunions and hammertoes. Bunions (inflammation) can occur either on the outside of the big toe joint or outside of the little toe joint. The area may become red, hot, swollen and very painful.
Hammertoe is a contracted or claw-like toe. The contraction usually occurs as a result of imbalances of bone structures or muscles making the toe stick up higher than normal and causing pressure both from the bone inside the toe and from the shoe outside. Both bunions and hammertoes respond well to orthotic control. In more severe cases, surgical intervention is utilized. In the prevention of these common injuries, it is important to understand the warning signs of stiffness, swelling and mild pain.
Listen to your body. At the first sign of pain, cut back on your exercise program and evaluate what is going wrong. Correct the problem and then slowly build back to your original program as the pain subsides.
Dr. Robert Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and the 1988 Olympic Trials., veteran of 30 Marathon. Weiss is a Fairfield native and has a practice in Darien. For information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.