So what is metatarsalgia? If you’re feeling pain in the ball of your foot, it could be metatarsalgia. This painful condition commonly affects sports players and people with arthritis, but if you have a bad habit of wearing inappropriate footwear (like high-heeled shoes), you can also develop this condition. In this blog we will learn the metatarsalgia symptoms, causes, and if there are metatarsalgia natural remedies that may help!
What is Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a painful condition, caused by inflammation, that impacts the ball of your foot. The condition occurs most often due to overuse, but it can also occur for other reasons. If you believe that you have metatarsalgia, you can often self-diagnose by knowing the symptoms.
Pain in the ball of your foot is the main symptom of metatarsalgia, and the pain will slowly get worse over time. While you rest, the pain and inflammation will often subside until you stand, exercise, or walk.
A lot of the people with this condition feel like they’re walking on pebbles or a marble.
Symptoms that you’ll want to look for if you believe that you have metatarsalgia are:
- Burning in the ball of the foot
- Shooting pain in the ball of the foot
- Tingling in your toes
- Numbness in your toes
Pain may get worse in certain circumstances, including:
- Walking barefoot
- Engaging in sports
Rest is a good option and will often alleviate pain, but additional treatments can speed up the healing process and further reduce pain.
Metatarsalgia is often caused by putting too much pressure on your metatarsal bones, or the bones in the front of the foot. Overuse of this area is common in sports, and sports are the most common cause of this condition.
Runners put repeated force on the balls of their feet, leading to inflammation and irritation of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Additional metatarsalgia causes are:
- Improperly fitting shoes
- High foot arches
- Being obese or overweight
- Arthritis, gout, or bunions
- Wearing shoes that lack arch support
Eliminating the metatarsalgia causes and activities responsible for metatarsalgia is necessary to stop the condition from worsening. Losing weight may also be required.
In most cases, treatment for metatarsalgia will focus on easing your pain and discomfort. Common treatments for this condition include:
Giving your foot rest and keeping it elevated can help provide some relief while helping with the healing process.
Do your best to keep pressure off of your feet for a while. Your foot needs a break so that it can heal properly.
To help ease the pain and reduce inflammation, you can apply an ice pack to your foot. Make sure that the ice is wrapped in a towel (never place it directly onto the skin), and use it for just 15-20 minutes at a time.
Ice packs can be applied a few times a day to give you some relief when you need it.
Metatarsal Pad or Bar
Metatarsal pads are shoe inserts that provide cushioning and support for the ball of your foot. They’re placed just behind the ball of the foot, and they should be just the right size for your foot.
Met pads can be purchased online, or you may be able to get them through your orthopedist.
Wear the Right Shoes
Wearing the right footwear is crucial when treating metatarsalgia and after treatment. It’s important to avoid wearing high-heeled shoes and to make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight.
Look for shoes with a wide toe box and adequate support and cushioning.
Metatarsalgia Natural Remedies
Along with these conventional treatments, there are natural remedies you can try to reduce pain and inflammation.
Pain-Relieving Gels and Creams
One simple but effective natural solution is a pain-relieving cream or gel. These products contain botanicals and other natural ingredients that may help ease inflammation while helping reduce the pain.
These creams or gels often contain:
- DMSO: It is believed that DMSO helps ease pain by inhibiting the production of oxygen radicals caused by tissue injury. Topical use of DMSO for pain is supported by studies, and it helps enhance the absorption of other ingredients.
- CBD: An animal model study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical CBD may help lower inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. This is one of the most difficult forms of pain to treat, so CBD may also be effective for metatarsalgia.
- Essential oils: Many essential oils have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, such as lavender, frankincense, and peppermint.
For hundreds of years, people have been using willow bark to treat inflammation, which is what causes most aches and pains.
What makes this bark so effective? It contains salicin, which is a chemical that’s very similar to the primary active ingredient in aspirin.
Historically, people would chew the bark to bring down fevers and alleviate pain. Today, you can find willow bark as a tea, liquid, or capsule for easy consumption.
While effective, willow bark can have side effects that you should be aware of, such as:
- Upset stomach
- Kidney issues
- Allergic reactions
Children should not take willow bark, nor should women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Although best known for its culinary uses, clove also has medicinal properties. It can help ease pain and inflammation. You can use it topically or ingest it. It’s available as an oil, in capsule form or powder form.
The key active ingredient in this spice is eugenol, which is a natural pain reliever.
Metatarsalgia Complications and Outlook
If left untreated, metatarsalgia can get worse. The pain may spread to other parts of the foot or body. In most cases, the pain spreads because you wind up changing your gait to deal with the original pain from metatarsalgia. Changing your gait is what causes the additional pain, and this can also have long-term effects on your overall physical health as well.
That said, the outlook for metatarsalgia is good. Conservative treatments and wearing the appropriate shoes can usually make the condition manageable. Of course, the outlook will ultimately depend on the underlying cause of the condition.