Youll normally feel numbness down the insides of the third and fourth toes, and pain under the ball of the foot which gets worse as you run. Although it may feel like walking on pebbles in shoes it is often relieved when barefoot. Youll experience acute pain if you compress the sides of the foot together.
Your transverse arch has usually become flattened, bringing the heads of your metatarsals (midfoot bones) together and compressing the nerve between them, causing swelling of the nerve along with the pain.
What else could it be?
Pain over the metatarsal heads (metatarsalgia), a stress fracture of the bone, or tendinitis may mimic the pain, while conditions varying from diabetes to multiple sclerosis could cause the numbness.
Raising the transverse arch of the foot with a metatarsal arch support can separate the bones and free the pressure on the nerve, which may recover. Wearing wide-fitting or loose-laced shoes can help, while partial rest becomes a painful necessity.
If conservative measures with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (eg ibuprofen) fail, a steroid cortisone injection may reduce the inflammation. Many cases require surgery to remove the damaged, swollen and inflamed nerve.
Can you run through it?
Ignore the symptoms at your peril. If you leave the condition until surgery is required, youre likely to lose a full month from your running schedule.
If the condition is caught early and appropriate measures taken, there should be minimal upset.