How to Relieve Metatarsal Pain. Metatarsalgia is a set of symptoms marked by pain and possibly inflammation of the ball of the foot. It is associated with high stress to the metatarsal heads and is typically a repetitive overuse injury. Metatarsalgia is often found in basketball players and runners as well as athletes in other high-impact sports involving the lower extremities. Severe cases may cause a strong burning pain when walking. Read on to learn more.
Diagnose the specific cause of metatarsalgia. Although it is usually a simple overuse injury, metatarsalgia may be caused by other ailments that would need to be diagnosed and treated separately. These causes include avascular necrosis, interdigital neuroma, inflammatory arthritis, metatarsophalangeal synovitis and sesamoiditis.
Treat metatarsalgia conservatively at first. Apply ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes at a time several times per day. Use a thin towel to protect your skin from the ice. Take pain relievers to reduce the pain and inflammation.
Rest your feet. The single most effective treatment for an overuse injury such as metatarsalgia is to simply stop performing the repetitive motion which caused it. Fitness can be maintained with other exercises while the injury heals.
Wear the right shoes for your feet, stride and activity. Experiment with shock-absorbing inserts placed over the insoles and metatarsal pads.
Treat severe cases of metatarsalgia with surgery. This may be necessary to realign the metatarsals in the case of a bunion deformity. Discuss the risks and benefits with your physician.