How To Relieve Metatarsalgia Pain

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Chronic pain in the ball of the foot hurts, and it can be disabling.

Metatarsalgia is a catch-all term that includes several painful foot conditions, such as calluses, dropped metatarsal heads, bursitis, arthritis, sesamoiditis, and Morton's neuroma. Metatarsalgia (or forefoot pain) affects millions of Americans, making each step for them a nightmare.

When a person takes a step forward, the ball of his or her foot bears 100% of the person's body weight for a brief period of time. Weight, or force, on the balls of the feet increases if a person carries a heavy object, runs, or jumps. At times when a person walks, pressure on his or her feet can exceed the person's body weight. When a person runs, the pressure can be three to four times his or her normal body weight.

To make matters worse, wearing high heels, walking barefoot, and standing for long periods of time without proper support puts abnormal pressure on the balls of the feet. So even if a person's feet are perfectly aligned, he or she may experience metatarsalgia if nothing is done to protect the balls of the feet.

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Dr. Paul R. Kasdan and Dr. Lowell Weil, Jr., board-certified podiatrists and medical directors for OurHealthNetwork.com, recommend the following measures to help avoid or alleviate metatarsalgia:

-- Wear shoes with heel heights of no more than 3/4 to 1 inch. If the heel is higher, too much of your body weight will be thrown forward on the balls of the feet.

-- Avoid walking barefoot. Shoes - especially those with thick, cushioned soles - protect the feet and provide good shock absorption for the entire body.

-- Consider custom-made orthotics for metatarsalgia. Custom orthotics can be designed to fit in dress shoes, while containing the custom accommodations that help to elevate dropped metatarsal heads. Orthotics also provide cushioning that helps the fatty pads protecting the bones in the feet to work as they should.

-- Also consider wearing metatarsal pads made from felt, foam, and gel. Metatarsal pads comfortably raise dropped metatarsal heads to their normal levels, thereby rebalancing the forefoot and helping to eliminate pain.

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