Athletes who run and jump a lot may be susceptible to metatarsalgia, a type of foot injury that manifests itself in pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Causes of metatarsalgia can include wearing unsupportive footwear, overpronation of the feet (flat feet), clawing or hammertoes or a tight, high arch.
Symptoms of metatarsalgia are:
- Pain in the forefoot is most pronounced when the person tries to bear weight or push off, especially if they are in high heels.
- Pain is usually gradual in its onset.
- Passive range of motion (when the therapist tries to bend the foot downwards) may be difficult or painful.
- Pain and tenderness when the area is pressed on.
- Excessive skin or calluses may be seen under the foot because of pressure.
Physical therapy involvement in this type of foot injury may involve the following:
- Assess gait and help correct uneven distribution of pressure on the metatarsals (bones of the foot).
- Recommend properly fitting shoes.
- Recommend you to a podiatrist for fitting of orthoses to correct foot posture.
- Train you in stretching and strengthening exercises to correct tightness in the tendons.
- Massage to relieve pain and tightness in the metatarsal area.
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