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The Best Options for Metatarsalgia Treatment

by Patty Weasler, RN May 18, 2021 0 Comments

Metatarsalgia treatment will be dependent on the severity and cause of your foot pain. This condition is typically caused by overuse and high-impact sports that put excess pressure on the ball of the foot. Conservative home treatment can usually alleviate the pain. However, sometimes medical treatment like surgery and physical therapy may be necessary. If you have pain or inflammation in the ball of your foot, read on to learn more about treating metatarsalgia in the comfort of your own home or with the help of a medical professional.  

Treating Metatarsalgia At Home

Metatarsalgia is named after the metatarsal bones in your feet. These bones connect your toes to your ankles. When the nerves between the metatarsal bones are caught and pressed against the bone it causes inflammation, resulting in metatarsalgia. Thankfully, home remedies are very successful at treating this condition.

Rest Your Feet

If you suffer from metatarsalgia, one of the best things you can do for your feet is to let them rest. Take a break from physical activities and prop your feet up on the couch. Relieving your feet of pressure will give them time to heal and protect them from further injury. If you must continue some activity try low impact sports like swimming that don’t strain your feet. 

Apply Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is an easy, inexpensive way to find pain relief from forefoot pain caused by metatarsalgia. Cold numbs pain and reduces swelling. Find an ice pack that fits over the ball of your foot. Leave the ice pack on for 20 minute intervals making sure to not sleep with it on your skin. You can use cold therapy at any time of the day, just make sure to apply it after exercise to manage any swelling that may follow.

Stretches and Exercises for the Foot

Stretching and exercise are two ways to treat metatarsalgia. Stretching will improve your range of motion and loosen any tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Exercise will strengthen your surrounding muscles which can help prevent further injury. Always get approval from your doctor or physical therapist before you begin new stretches and exercises. You want to make sure you aren’t causing additional stress or strain on your feet.

Effective Metatarsalgia Exercises

Healthy Foot Hygiene

Metatarsalgia treatment needs to include proper foot hygiene. Your foot health is crucial and often neglected. Make sure you are taking good care of your feet by managing calluses, moisturizing, and even gentle massage. Foot problems like hammertoes, bunions, and Morton’s neuroma all can be causes of metatarsalgia. So be sure to address any underlying causes that may be contributing to your foot pain.

Wear Proper Footwear

The right shoes can make all the difference when you have metatarsalgia. Look for shoes that have a wide toe box that can accommodate your foot without pinching. Your shoes should have good support and cushion for the bottoms of your feet. Avoid wearing high heels, they put extra pressure on the balls of your feet.

Utilize Orthotic Shoe Inserts

Shoe inserts provide support for multiple foot conditions besides metatarsalgia, including plantar fasciitis, morton’s neuroma and high arches. Check out your options below.

  • Arch supports

    Arch supports will relieve the extra stress and strain when you’re walking or exercising. They will give your shoes a little extra cushioning and comfort. Certain arch supports can correct pronation issues. Check with your podiatrist or doctor to help you determine if you need prescription orthotics or if over-the-counter ones will do.

  • Metatarsal Pads

    Metatarsal support pads distribute the pressure from painful calluses or pressure points over the entire metatarsal area. They are a gel material that also cushions and relieves some of the impact from walking. Some metatarsal pads have a ring that goes around the second toe whereas others just have the pad.

  • Insoles

    Insoles are made of foam or gel material and replace the liner of your shoe. They come in varying lengths, sizes, and levels of support. The best insoles are ones that meet the needs of your feet based on your symptoms of metatarsalgia. Check out this resource on the best insoles for an in depth review. 

Kinesiology Taping

Kinesiology tape is a flexible medical tape that is used to protect joints and muscles. It can stay on the skin for multiple days, even after getting wet. When used for metatarsalgia it will improve proprioception (body awareness), increase blood and lymph circulation, and hopefully prevent further injury.

To learn more about metatarsalgia taping check out this resource

Medication

Metatarsalgia causes inflammation and swelling over the ball of the foot. To counter that use an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen. These over-the-counter medications reduce the inflammatory process within the body and relieve pain. If you have never used these drugs before talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they will not interact with other medications you use and to avoid unintended side effects.

Alternative Treatments

Sometimes home treatments are not enough to manage metatarsalgia pain. Here are the other treatments that may work for your condition.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are professional trained to manage multiple conditions including metatarsalgia. They will guide you through a series of exercises and stretches to improve your strength and flexibility. If you require surgery, they will work with you during your rehabilitation to bring you back to your level of fitness before surgery. 

Surgery

Surgery is reserved for the most severe cases of metatarsalgia. If you have suffered from this condition with little to no relief your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. Your surgeon will likely order some diagnostic testing like x-rays to get a better picture of your foot and situation. During surgery, your surgeon will work to change the length or alignment of some of the bones within your foot to change how your foot handles weight-bearing activities.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the largest pieces to the metatarsalgia puzzle is incorporating lifestyle changes to improve your foot and overall health. This includes losing excess body weight and avoiding activities that place stress on your feet. Wear proper shoes and pay attention to your foot health. 

Treating Your Metatarsalgia Pain

If you suffer from pain in the balls of your feet then it’s time to talk to your podiatrist or doctor to get a diagnosis. You may have metatarsalgia, a painful condition that can be treated with home remedies and in some of the more serious cases with surgery. While foot pain is no walk in the park, with prompt attention and treatment you will be able to enjoy all of your favorite activities.

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/190431#causes

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15890-metatarsalgia/management-and-treatment

https://www.verywellhealth.com/foot-pain-metatarsalgia-causes-and-treatment-2549413

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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