Resource for Metatarsalgia Treatment
Individuals with metatarsalgia experience pain in the ball of the foot and it is sometimes accompanied by swelling. This foot problem is addressed as a symptom rather than a disease.
The most frequent part of the foot that is affected by metatarsalgia is the ball part of the bone or the metatarsals; hence, the name.
Affected Population: Individuals who are commonly affected by this issue are athletes who take part in high-impact sports such as running. Field runners and soccer players also put great strength or pressure on their feet.
Causes: Athletes who take part in intense sports involving running or jumping are at high risk of injury. While track and field runners are exposed to the highest level of traumatic force to the feet, many other athletes including tennis, football, baseball, and soccer players also experience forefoot injuries.
In addition to high-intensity sports, metatarsalgia is caused by being overweight/obese, having foot deformities such as hammer toe, calluses and bunions, and also feet with high-arches and Morton’s toe.
Pain Description: Pain experienced in such a health issue are described as measured and persistent. This is aggravated when doing activities like walking and performing impact sports. Sometimes, the pain also radiates to the big toe and the adjacent toes.
Diagnosis: When consulting a medical professional, opt for a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating foot problems. Diagnosing metatarsalgia includes serial X-rays, laboratory tests to rule out other diseases, ultrasound or MRI for in-depth examination of the problem.
Treatment: An acute phase of metatarsalgia treatment includes cold compress and pressure bandage application. The patient is advised not to put any pressure on the foot and begin with a passive range of motion exercises. The patient is also instructed on how to properly use metatarsal pads and other orthotics which will provide immediate foot relief.
As mentioned earlier, foot deformities like callus and bunions may contribute to metatarsalgia. While these may contribute to pressure on the foot and aggravate the condition, it is not advised by medical professionals to shave or remove them. Meanwhile, the utilization of orthotic device is not a general rule of treatment for patients with these symptoms. This depends on the individual’s condition and preference of the individual.
Chronic metatarsalgia treatment involves physical therapy to relieve inflammation and excessive pressure on the foot. During chronic phase of treatment, the patient can now perform active range of motion exercises. However, the patient is still not allowed to resume weight-bearing activities. Meanwhile, conditioning activities like swimming is a great form of exercise. Surgery is not a common mode of treatment for this foot problem.
Surgical intervention is only advised for severe cases to balance weight bearing or whenever initial treatments have failed. Surgery can be in the form of shoe modification with orthosis or surgical alignment of metatarsals.
For short-term pain relief, the patient may take NSAID’s or other drugs for pain relief.
Prognosis: Depending on the nature and extent of foot injury, the prognosis of metatarsalgia is generally good. The person has a great chance of returning to his or her athletic function and regular activities.