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What is Metatarsalgia and How to Ease This Foot Pain Naturally

There are a lot of different things that can go wrong with the feet due to overuse, including a foot condition known as metatarsalgia. Since this is a common condition that affects many people who are otherwise healthy and active, this article will cover what metatarsalgia is, what causes it, and how to ease this type of foot pain naturally.

Photo credit: Esther Max via Flickr

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is often categorized as a sports injury or an overuse injury. However, it can also be the result of abnormal distribution of body weight in rarer cases. A tight Achilles tendon, excessive pronation, hammertoe, weak toe flexors, and poor-fitting shoes can also lead to this condition or make it worse. A condition known as Morton’s neuroma involves a noncancerous growth of tissue between metatarsal heads that causes symptoms that mirror metatarsalgia. If the feet continue to be overstressed, the inflammation of metatarsalgia can also lead to issues with the surrounding ligaments and tendons.

Who Is at Risk of Metatarsalgia?

Although living an active lifestyle is beneficial in so many ways, being an athlete is the most common risk factor of metatarsalgia. More specifically, athletes who play high-impact sports, such as track and field, basketball, and soccer, risk injuring their forefeet and developing metatarsalgia because of the running and jumping involved.

Photo credit: Michael Pujals via Flickr

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a painful foot condition that involves pain at the end of the foot’s metatarsal bones. This is in the area of the ball of your foot. This pain usually gets worse with movement and can be accompanied by other inflammatory foot conditions, such as bursitis. The pain usually doesn’t come on suddenly, but rather develops and worsens over the course of several months. People with metatarsalgia often describe the pain as sharp, aching, shooting, and burning. You might also feel like you have a small rock in your shoe that really isn’t there when you have metatarsalgia.

Natural Treatments for Metatarsalgia

After a medical professional diagnoses you with metatarsalgia by taking an xray, bone scan, or ultrasound, it’s time to begin discussing treatment options to relieve the pain. Initially, the best natural treatments for metatarsalgia are simple – ice, rest, and pressure bandages. A doctor may also recommend changing the type of shoes you wear, inserting orthotic devices into your current shoes, and trying range of motion treatments. There are stretching and strengthening exercises for the feet that can help with metatarsalgia without the need for pain medications in the initial phase of treatment. Meanwhile, foods that help fight inflammation, such as fish oil, turmeric, walnuts, and leafy green vegetables, can help ease inflammation-related foot issues as well.

For ongoing treatment, physical therapy can help to relieve pressure in the parts of the foot that hurt the most. In more severe cases, steroid injections may be discussed. However, it is very important to allow the injury to fully heal before returning to athletic activity. Metatarsal pads and orthotics should be used in athletic shoes to reduce the amount of stress placed on that part of the foot. But the good news is that metatarsalgia is typically very treatable and that athletes can usually recover from this type of injury with simple natural remedies and get back to the activities they love.

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