January 2012

Metatarsal pads may reduce pain by creating space in the forefoot

In the moment: Footcare

A Dutch study suggests that metatarsal pads relieve metatar­salgia pain by creating space between metatarsal heads in addition to reducing plantar pressure.

Researchers from St. Maartens Clinic in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, performed motion analysis on 16 feet with primary metatarsalgia and 12 control feet as study participants walked with and without a metatarsal pad. The teardrop shaped poly­urethane pad was positioned just proximal to the distal head of the second metatarsal bone.

In both participant groups, metatarsal pad use was associated with significant mean forefoot width increases of .6 mm during stance phase and .74 mm during midstance. The mean height of the second metatarsal head during gait also increased by .62 mm.

Mean peak plantar pressure significantly increased at the site of pad placement and significantly decreased just distal from the pad. However, previous studies have reached opposite conclusions as to whether pressure redistribution correlates with decreased pain.

The Dutch findings were published in January by the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. – JBF

Source: Koenraadt KL, Stolwijk NM, van den Wildenberg D, et al. Effect of a metatarsal pad on the forefoot during gait. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 2012; 102(1):18-24.

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