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How to Get Back on Your Feet With Metatarsalgia



Metatarsalgia

What is Metatarsalgia?


Metatarsalgia is a condition defined by painful inflammation in the metatarsal region in your foot (what many people generally think of as the “ball” of your foot). It can creep up if you participate in a lot of high-impact activities like running, or sports that involve a lot of jumping and hard landings. The pain is sharp, and typically worsens when you stand, run, or flex your feet. The pain will probably be worse if you do these things barefoot or on a hard surface. If you’re suffering from metatarsalgia you may also experience some numbness or tingling in your toes. 




What Can I Do to Avoid it?


Prevention is always the best move, and if you find yourself experiencing discomfort in your feet after hard workouts or long days at work, there are things you can try to make sure the problem doesn’t persist or get worse. 


  • Try different shoes – if you’re experiencing discomfort in the balls of your feet, shoes that are better at absorbing impact and have better arch support can help alleviate some of the punishment they take. Special inserts like metatarsal pads can also be used to make your shoes a bit more foot-friendly.

  • Rest more frequently – if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet frequently, try to find opportunities to take a load off. If you work out a lot, see if you can find activities that have less impact on your feet. 


You might experience discomfort in your feet after a long day of being on your feet or taking part in an activity that’s particularly hard on your feet, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got metatarsalgia. Aside from the adjustments above, you can try ice or over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to get some relief. If the pain lingers for more than a few days, and if you find that it recurs frequently, even after trying to modify your activities or footwear, it’s probably time to consult a professional. 


How Can My PT Help Me with Metatarsalgia?


If the adjustments you make on your own don’t bring you lasting relief, it might be time to ask your physical therapist to help out. They can help you with exercises that will stretch your calves and heel, to reduce strain on the front of your foot. If any of your muscles are overcompensating, they can help you strengthen weak muscles (especially in your toes) in order to relieve excess load on the metatarsal region of your foot. They’ll also do a more comprehensive evaluation of your gait, and your feet, to see if specific footwear or orthotics can be more effective in alleviating your symptoms. They may even employ light massage (and demonstrate at-home techniques) to help relax any muscles in your feet which are prone to getting tight. 


In rarer cases, surgical intervention may be required if abnormalities of your metatarsal bones make rehabilitation impossible. But overall, metatarsalgia is a condition that can be addressed with conservative treatment and you can expect to resume your normal activities (perhaps with some modification) before very long.


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