At-Home Foot Treatments: Foot Pads for Metatarsalgia

May 18, 2021
foot pads for metatarsalgia

Most people struggle consulting hospitals and clinics since the pandemic happened. Hospitals have reached total capacity, and doctors conduct check-ups remotely to avoid the possibility of spread. The situation prompts everyone to take care of their health to not end up in long waiting lines. Fortunately, people with conditions such as foot pain have over-the-counter treatments to do in the convenience of their homes. 

Foot pain affects the quality of your life. It’s one of the most-used parts of the body, so it needs to function well. 

This article will discuss one of the most common foot conditions, metatarsalgia, characterized by an intense pain on the ball of your foot. An effective treatment you can get over-the-counter is foot pads. So let’s move on and try to find out what foot pads for metatarsalgia can do for you.

Understanding Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a foot condition in the ball of your foot with the presence of intense pain and inflammation. It roots from the word metatarsals, bones found in the forefoot that connect your toes to your ankles. There are five metatarsals, referred to by their respective numbers: first metatarsal, second metatarsal, third metatarsal, fourth metatarsal, and fifth metatarsal. Metatarsals are long, convex bones that work with tissues, ligaments, and tendons to provide foot movement.

Once these bones become injured, you’ll end up with any of the various foot conditions, and metatarsalgia is one of them. 

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

Here are signs to find out if you might be suffering from metatarsalgia.

  • Burning pain in the sole next to your toes
  • You feel like there’s a rock or particle under your foot.
  • A numbing or tingling sensation in your toes (especially when you’re flexing them)
  • Sharp, shooting, aching pain that gets worse when you walk, run, or stand

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Various factors cause Metatarsalgia. While some reasons are still unknown, the most common causes are the following:

Intense Activity

People who spend a lot of time and weight on their forefoot are more vulnerable to this condition. Specifically, those who engage in high-impact sports, such as runners, need a potent force on their foot, which puts them at risk of metatarsalgia. 

High-Arched Foot 

You are at risk of metatarsalgia if the shape of your foot is high-arched. Having such a foot structure puts more pressure on the metatarsal bones. Another specific structure is to have a second toe that is longer than the big toe. As a result, weight leans more to the second metatarsal. 

Ill-Fitting Shoes and High Heels

Wearing shoes that poorly fit the size of your feet contributes to the risk of this condition, particularly for athletes. Intense activities need enough support to somehow prevent any injuries from occurring. On the other hand, high heels steal much of the weight and bring it to the forefoot, causing the same problem. 

Foot Defects

Foot deformities, such as the hammertoe, bunions, clubfoot, flatfoot, stress fractures, and more, can also affect the possibility of getting metatarsalgia. 


Weight is a significant factor in getting the risk of metatarsalgia. Additional and forceful weight puts extra pressure on the metatarsals.

Other Medical Conditions

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, Morton’s neuroma, Capsulitis, or osteoarthritis can also cause metatarsalgia. In addition, swelling joints, irritated foot nerves, and fluid building up in the foot can cause pressure on the metatarsals. 

Treatment: Best Foot Pads for Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is commonly treated without surgery, although it is still an option when things get a lot worse. In addition, there are various at-home treatments that your health expert can recommend. This article emphasizes the use of foot pads. 

What Are Foot Pads?

Foot pads, also called metatarsal pads, are small pads placed on the insole of your shoes to provide pain relief for the metatarsal bones. Met pads are not only used to treat metatarsalgia alone but also other conditions based on several studies, such as:

  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Related foot ulceration
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pes planus

A Short History on Metatarsal Pads

It started during the 1930s. An orthopedist named Emil Hauser, MD, used to make metatarsal pads out of surgical wool. After effectiveness has been proven, more people started to utilize it. As time passed, new improvements and designs developed, and the treatment became a reliable solution for many. 

The birth of more pad versions made the purpose of foot pads a little ambiguous at one point. With the help of plantar pressure analysis studies, there is now a much better comprehension of what pads are for and how they should be used. 

How Do Foot Pads Work?

As mentioned in the earlier paragraphs, foot pads are usually applied by placing them behind the ball of your foot. It is crucial to know the proper positioning because it gives off the benefits it offers. There are various ways to wear them without actually ruining the proper positioning.

  • You can place it on the bottom of your foot, using an adhesive to stick it to the desired place. It could be a little tricky with positioning and inconvenient for people with skin irritation (due to the adhesive).
  • You can stick it on top of a shoe’s insole. There’s no direct contact with the adhesive (if you have easily irritated skin), and pads can stay longer when placed on that area.
  • There are pads with unique designs and unique ways of wearing them.

Foot pads relieve pain by providing support to your metatarsal bones. These pads reduce and distribute the uneven pressure from the ball of your foot. Once applied, pads help you feel less to no pain when walking, running, or any other activity that involves a lot of foot movement. 

A large part of the outcome relies on its placements, experts say. Some studies stated exact measurements of the ideal placement to maximize foot pads’ effectiveness. 

  • 6.1 to 10.6 mm proximal to a line connecting the met head
  • Proximal to the met head’s peak pressure
  • 5 mm distal to the met heads

How Are Foot Pads Made?

Metatarsalgia foot pads are usually made up of either open-cell polyurethane foam, wool, gel, or latex and leather materials. The best metatarsal foot pads should have an antimicrobial treatment. It helps prevent odour and bacteria growth. 

Other Metatarsalgia Treatments and Prevention Tips

Keep in mind that while foot pads are proven effective, it is mainly used for pain relief. Other underlying issues are no longer part of a foot pad’s primary benefits. Aside from foot pads, here are other practices that could help prevent and treat metatarsalgia: 

  • Use footwear with good insoles, lower heels, and a vast space for your toes.
  • Rest your feet and put on some ice
  • Avoid overdoing high-impact activities. If you don’t necessarily need to be involved in high-impact sports, engage in activities such as swimming or cycling instead.
  • Regularly exercise your ankles.
  • Reduce walking barefoot
  • Using a pumice stone to remove calluses helps relieve pressure on your foot. Note that you have to consult a health expert about this first.
  • Wear orthopedic/foot insoles for metatarsalgia with a doctor’s recommendation.
  • Wear foot/metatarsal pads

What if these solutions no longer help as pain relievers for your metatarsalgia? It is time to see a doctor. If ignored for a long time, metatarsalgia can even cause pain in the lower back, and you might not be able to walk steadily. When things worsen, your doctor usually suggests performing an injection or surgery as necessary. Don’t sit with your foot pain for an entire week and start seeking medical care to get running in no time. 

Final Word

Having the everyday freedom to walk, run, or stand properly should make you realize the importance of foot care. When you start feeling the slightest of the signs, go to your doctor and find a solution for the pain. Bring an end to foot pain and enjoy every step of life with foot pads, your little heroes without capes!

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