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How to treat metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury which causes pain and inflammation of the ball of the foot. It usually develops caused by activities such as jumping and running. It can also be caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes and deformities of the foot.

Symptoms of metatarsalgia

  • Pain becomes worse especially when standing, running, walking and flexing the feet barefoot on hard surface and pain subside when resting.
  • Sharp, aching or burning pain can be felt in the ball of the foot, especially behind the toes.
  • Shooting pain, numbness and tingling sensations in the toes
  • A sensation of a pebble inside the shoe

Causes

How to treat metatarsalgia

Pain becomes worse especially when standing, running, walking and flexing the feet barefoot on hard surface and pain subside when resting.

  • Long distance runners are in a high risk of developing this condition because the front area of the foot absorbs all the force when running.
  • Wearing poorly fitting shoes
  • Certain shapes of the feet such as high arch and second toe longer than the big toe.
  • Wearing too-small shoes or high heels
  • Hammertoe or the downward-curling of the toe
  • Formation of bunions at the bottom of the big toe.
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing shoe with a narrow toe box and athletic shoes without proper support and padding.
  • Stress fractures or small breaks in the metatarsal or toe bones
  • Morton’s neuroma or growths of fibrous tissue around the nerve on the 3rd and 4th metatarsal heads.

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected foot to prevent further injury.
  • Elevate the area after standing or walking. Perform low-impact exercises such as cycling or swimming.
  • Apply ice on the area for at least 20 minutes at a time several times every day to lessen the swelling and the pain. Wrap ice in a towel or place a towel between the ice and the skin before placing on the area to prevent further irritations and worsen the condition.
  • Compress the area using an elastic bandage and wrapped around the foot and ankle to lessen the pain and the swelling. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent problems with circulations.
  • Elevate the area higher than the level of the heart to reduce the swelling. Place the area in couple of pillows when lying down to keep it elevated.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications to lessen the inflammations and the pain.
  • Massage the affected area to relax the feet, lessen pressure and relieve of the pain in the morning and before sleeping at night.
  • Wear shoes with adequate arch support and metatarsal pad to lessen stress on the metatarsal bones and improve functioning of the foot.
  • Exercising regularly using low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, cycling, rowing, yoga and Tai-chi to maintain a healthy weight and restore full range of movement of the foot.

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