Prevention and Treatment of Metatarsalgia
Maintaining a healthy weight prevents undue stress on the feet. Shoe inserts reduce the impact to the forefoot and stress on the feet. Inserts can also help correct the biomechanical anomalies that can worsen metatarsalgia. When pain and soreness are severe or interfere with function, custom-made inserts or orthotics may be appropriate. Well-made inserts also help ensure proper foot alignment, which can prevent forefoot pain.
Properly designed shoes and boots have toe boxes that are sufficiently wide and high to allow the toes to spread. They help prevent pressure in the forefoot and reduce the risk of metatarsalgia. Avoid shoes with extremely high heels and pointed toes, which increase pressure and stress on the forefoot.
To help ensure that feet are optimally protected, IPFH suggests wearing properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approach, padded socks with shoes with non-slip outsoles and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional. Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that wearing clinically-tested padded socks can help protect against injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot due to the effects of impact, pressure and shear forces.
Conservative treatments such as ice and rest can often relieve metatarsalgia symptoms. Ice packs can be applied to the affected area for about 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. To protect the skin, wrap the ice packs in a thin towel.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may advise additional treatments and suggest that you avoid sports and other vigorous activities while you recover. Lower impact activities are fine during this time.