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One of the best measures you can take for your health is to stay active and exercise. There are numerous benefits of exercise, but there is also injury risk when you lead an active lifestyle. Ultimately, though, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Plus, there are often prevention measures you can take to reduce the risk of sustaining a condition like metatarsalgia.

Metatarsalgia Explained

If you participate in high-impact activities or exercises that involve running and jumping on a regular basis, it is entirely possible you will experience metatarsalgia at some point or other. When the condition strikes, you will have inflammation and pain in the ball of the foot. Typically, this has a gradual onset, one that can take up to several months to fully develop. This is not an especially dangerous problem, but it will likely keep you on the sidelines of your favorite sports for a while as you recover.

In addition to physical activities, your choices in footwear can also lead to this condition. In particular, shoes that do not fit your feet correctly increase your risk. Other potential offenders include high heels and athletic shoes that do not have ample arch support and cushioning. High heels are especially egregious, since they place excessive pressure and force on the forefoot instead of evenly distributing it over the entire foot.

Biological Predispositions

Beyond activities and shoe choices, there are certain inherited conditions and structural abnormalities that increase the odds of developing this forefoot pain. Hammertoe deformities, short first metatarsal bones, and high rigid foot arches (cavus foot) can cause or contribute to the issue. Additionally, those who have gout or rheumatoid arthritis are at a greater risk than otherwise healthy individuals.

Getting Back in the Game

The initial course of treatment for metatarsalgia entails taking time off from high-impact physical activities (those involving running and/or jumping). In all likelihood, it was an activity like this that led to the condition in the first place. Even if not, though, it is still important to give your body time to begin natural healing processes. During this time, we recommend doing low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming as great workouts to help you maintain physical conditioning, but without placing excessive force on your lower limbs.

Resting and activity modification are good places to start, but icing is another treatment option that can help by reducing both inflammation and pain. Icing the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, several times during the day, is beneficial. Always make sure you wrap the ice or ice pack in a thin towel first, to protect your skin.

We also recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers for further pain management and inflammation reduction, but call our office first for specific dosage recommendations. We also have advanced treatment options available in MLS Laser Therapy.

Preventing Forefoot Pain

Our doctors will certainly provide the treatment you need, but it is preferable not to experience the problem in the first place. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to help protect your feet:

Wear the correct footwear. Always make sure you are wearing shoes appropriate for the activity you are performing. If you are a runner, choose running shoes that are well-constructed and offer ample cushioning and arch support.

Wear high heels sparingly. Tying in with the previous metatarsalgia prevention tips, save your high-heeled shoes only for special occasions. Pumps and stilettos do not have the support and cushioning you need to prevent foot issues from developing. Additionally, they cause excessive pressure to be placed on the front of the foot.

Maintain a healthy bodyweight. This measure will help you reduce your risk of many common foot and ankle issues. We often take them for granted, but the lower limbs sustain incredible force loads, even during an average day. Healthy weight loss can help lighten the load on them.

Professional Care for Forefoot Pain

We provide comprehensive foot care services here at Premier Podiatry Group, including treatment for metatarsalgia. If you become aware of the symptoms of the condition, contact our office by calling (814) 472-2660. You can also schedule an appointment with us online.