What are the signs of metatarsalgia?
You could be dealing with metatarsalgia if,
- You have foot pain that is exacerbated by standing, walking, or flexing your foot
- Foot pain gets better with rest
- You have a sharp or burning pain in the ball of the foot
- There is a sharp or shooting pain in the toes
- Your toes tingle or feel numb
- You feel as if you have a stone in your shoe
What causes this foot problem?
Certain factors can certainly increase your risk of developing metatarsalgia. These risk factors include,
- Experiencing stress fractures in the toes
- Wearing high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box
- Being overweight or obese
- Having certain foot deformities such as bunions or hammertoes
- High arches
- Intense or endurance exercises such as long-distance running
You can ease metatarsalgia pain and discomfort on your own through simple lifestyle changes including,
- Avoiding certain activities and exercises that make the pain worse (e.g., running)
- Wearing properly fitted and fully supportive shoes
- Avoiding high heels or shoes that are too tight
- Placing shoe inserts or padding under the metatarsal bones for further support
- Icing the area multiple times a day
- Taking a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication
When you bring your child into the podiatrist’s office, the specialist will examine your child’s walk and gait. They will also observe how your child stands to see if their feet turn inwards or to look at how your child’s hips are positioned. Your podiatrist may also recommend imaging tests to look at the alignment of the bones.
While a pediatrician may be the first person to look at and diagnose your child’s pigeon toes, a pediatric podiatrist is going to be able to provide your little one with the specialized treatment and care they need.
Most parents are relieved to find out that many children grow out of mild to moderate forms of pigeon toes. While this may take a few years, this is nothing to worry about and children won’t require special treatment or care.
However, if this issue is detected in your infant, they may need to wear a cast on the feet to fix the alignment before your child begins walking. A podiatrist can also show you a series of stretches and massages that can help the bones grow into the proper alignment.
If your child’s pigeon toes are still causing them issues by 10 years old, then you may want to talk with your podiatrist about whether surgery may be necessary to correct these bone alignment issues.
What causes flat feet?
Sometimes flat feet are simply inherited (thanks mom and dad!). Other times they develop as a result of a weakening of the posterior tibial tendon due to age-related wear and tear, physical activity, and overpronation. Those who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop flat feet.
Should I be concerned about my child’s flat feet?
The arches of the feet develop during childhood, so it’s not normal for your baby or toddler to have arches. Their flat feet are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Arches typically won’t form until your child is two or three years old, and some children won’t develop arches until the age of five.
What are some ways to treat flat feet?
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms then there is no reason to seek treatment for your flat feet; however, if you are dealing with foot pain, particularly around the heel or arches of the foot, then you should talk with your podiatrist about ways to ease your pain and prevent further flare-ups. Some conservative ways to treat flat feet include,
- Wearing properly fitted shoes that provide ample cushioning and support for the entire foot, particularly the arches and heel
- Consider getting prescription orthotics from your podiatrist, which can evenly distribute the weight throughout the foot rather than putting added pressure on the arches or heel
- Losing weight, if the patient is overweight or obese
- Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce pain and swelling
- Talking to your podiatrist about special exercises that you can do to improve the strength and function of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the foot to reduce pain
- Weighing the pros and cons of surgical intervention
- Seek immediate medical attention (head to your local ER)
- You may need a tetanus shot if it’s been more than 10 years since your last shot
- Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist within 24 hours of the injury
- Your podiatrist will provide you with a variety of care instructions to keep it clean and disinfected (make sure to follow all of these instructions)
- New or worsening pain
- Skin that’s warm to the touch
- Wash feet at least once a day with soap and warm water. Make sure that you dry your feet thoroughly after.
- Make sure to dry feet as soon as possible after dealing with sweaty or perspiring feet.
- Choose socks made from materials that wick away sweat and improve ventilation.
- Apply deodorizing sprays or powders in shoes every day after wear, and make sure to wait 24 hours before wearing the same shoes again.
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