Metatarsalgia is when the bones of the forefoot, or the metatarsals, become inflamed. This irritation often causes pain and discomfort. Usually described as feeling as if you have a pebble in your shoe, it can make walking difficult. Runners are generally not deterred by training, and most seek a way to treat metatarsalgia at home as well as trying to find the best running shoes for metatarsalgia pain.
If you’re eager to lace up your running shoes and put metatarsalgia behind you, these at-home remedies are for you!
Is Treating Metatarsalgia Pain at Home a Good Idea?
Before we list our tips, we always recommend checking with your doctor if you’re experiencing an injury or pain. They can properly diagnose the severity of your metatarsalgia and advise the best treatment plan.
In some situations, home remedies may help combat acute or mild metatarsalgia. Chronic and more advanced cases typically require a more extended rest period and sometimes professional treatment such as physical therapy or surgery. If your doctor has given you the go-ahead to try and relieve metatarsalgia pain at home, these solutions are worth a try.
The Best Home Treatments for Metatarsalgia Pain
1. Rest, Rest, and More Rest
Usually, the best at-home treatment for metatarsalgia is rest. The condition is commonly brought on by frequent and repetitive high impact, such as running. To speed healing, you should cease the offending activity and spend some time off your feet. Swimming and other low-impact sports that don’t require you to be on your feet can be enjoyed while you wait to return to running.
2. Decrease Inflammation
The pain from metatarsalgia is the result of inflammation and irritation. Decreasing the swelling will help alleviate the pain. One way to do this is by icing the affected area. You can apply ice packs for ten to twenty minutes several times each day. Over-the-counter pain medication can also be effective. Ibuprofen is often best at reducing inflammation in addition to controlling discomfort.
Stretching for metatarsalgia pain shouldn’t be done right away. Once you’ve allowed your feet time to rest, adding in stretches can help prevent future issues. Metatarsalgia stretches commonly involve the surrounding muscles of the foot, ankle, and leg. Stretches include ankle flexion and extension, calf stretches, and those focusing on the Achilles Tendon. Trying to scrunch or pick up a towel with your toes can benefit the metatarsals and footpads.
4. Add Support
There are a variety of ways in which you can support your feet. Proper shoes are the most critical. Your shoes should not be too tight, like high heels or too loose. It’s recommended that you find a pair with ample support. However, you can also customize your footwear with orthotics. Arch supports can help reduce stress on the metatarsals. Similarly, metatarsal pads can soften the impact and disperse pressure away from painful areas.
Some individuals find that compression helps reduce inflammation and decrease pain. You can apply gentle compression by wrapping your foot with an ACE bandage or kinesiology tape. However, be careful you don’t wrap it too tight as constricting pressure may worsen the condition.
6. Epsom Salts
Many runners like to alternate between ice and heat, a form of hot and cold therapy. You can soak painful feet from metatarsalgia in Epsom salt baths. The heat alone can relax muscles, but it is also believed that the magnesium in these salts can help lower inflammation and irritation.
What If the Home Remedies Aren’t Helping?
If your metatarsalgia pain doesn’t improve in two weeks with conservative home treatments, you may need to return to your doctor. Rare cases, usually caused by medical conditions such as hammertoe, may require advanced medical treatment.