How to Treat Metatarsal Foot Pain in Professional Athletes

How to Treat Metatarsal Foot Pain in Professional Athletes
Foot pain can afflict any athlete, from the professionals to the elite amateurs. Repetitive motion creates pressure on the metatarsal bones, and this leads to foot pain caused by an imbalance in pressure on one or more of the long, thin bones in the feet. It's a common affliction and injury, and there is a great breadth of opportunities for treatment. In the field, however, there are some simple fixes to help alleviate pain until you can get to a doctor. As an elite athlete, proximity to a training facility or a simple first aid kit is assumed.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pad isolating friction from injured area: Dr. Scholl, Mole Skin, cane, trekking pole, stick, or branch Roll of "Ace" bandage Clamp, safety pin, pin, or staple
  • Pad isolating friction from injured area: Dr. Scholl, Mole Skin, cane, trekking pole, stick, or branch
  • Roll of "Ace" bandage
  • Clamp, safety pin, pin, or staple
Step 1
Take pressure off the injured foot by sitting. Remove shoe and sock. Gently massage the foot--especially if a stress fracture or non-displacement fracture are possible causes. Place the injured foot on the ground, and apply pressure slowly and gently until the pain source is located.
Step 2
Wrap the foot in an ace bandage with the tightness necessary to distribute the pressure on the foot evenly among all five bones. With a suspected fracture, a splint may be necessary to relieve the pain and stabilize the injured area. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. This pain is not going to go away by itself. Ace bandages may not be available. In this case, use a bandanna, handkerchief or strip of cloth to serve the same purpose.
Step 3
"Why would any doctor treat a professional athlete any different than any other patient?" asks Dr. Daniel Schulman, "it hurts an active person as much as a professional athlete." Dr. Schulman, director of the Phoenix Institute of Footcare Physicians, PLC, and a Board Certified Podiatrist is the foot and ankle injury doctor for a major league baseball team during spring training. Metatarsal injuries are quite common among active individuals. The most common result in pain from one or more of the bones being placed under pressure not shared equally among all five bones.
Pain can be caused by sprains, strains, stress fractures, non-displacement fractures or a compound fracture. Repetitive motion can cause or aggravate the problems. Treatment can range from conservative "stay off your feet" instructions to sophisticated surgery. Essentially, Dr. Schulman says, orthotics management is the first step in treatment. This technique redistributes the weight and pressure on the injured bone by distributing the pressure evenly across the metatarsus. Commonly--even among elite athletes--Dr. Schulman sees bunions and hammertoes creating metatarsal pain.
To prescribe the orthotic device, the patient places the foot and weight on a force-plate imbued mat--similar to the digitronics used for computer-generated animation. The pressure is measured and digitally converted into a three-dimensional gait analysis. An orthotics lab takes the digitized data and creates the orthotic insert to the doctor's specifications.

Tips & Warnings

 
If over-the-counter foot pads and cushions don't work, the most common solution is an custom designed insert placed into the shoe Go to a foot specialist, a board-certified podiatrist
 
If over-the-counter foot pads and cushions don't work, the most common solution is an custom designed insert placed into the shoe
 
Go to a foot specialist, a board-certified podiatrist
 
Even if pain is alleviated, there may be a more serious underlying problem. Medical attention is important Continuing a workout with untreated metatarsal pain could result in complications
 
Even if pain is alleviated, there may be a more serious underlying problem.
 
Medical attention is important
 
Continuing a workout with untreated metatarsal pain could result in complications

Article Written By Eric Jay Toll

Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.

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