As life would have it, I am not impervious to pain or to injury and I was injured during my karate class. As a matter of fact, I injured my metatarsals. It has not been diagnosed, but I'm guessing they are extremely bruised or fractured. Regardless, it hurts, and I can only curl my toes slightly.
How do injuries occur in the metatarsals and what are they?
Simply put, the metatarsals are the longer set of bones in the feet. If you look at your barefoot, they are in the area between your toes up to your instep; that high peak on your foot. There are several types of breaks that can occur, but two categories are acute fractures and stress fractures.
What to do for MetaTarsal [Foot] Injury
The best way for an injury of this sort to heal is to take time off from sports activities and exercise, and to stay off of your feet as much as possible.
The metatarsals usually need six to 12 weeks to heal, but there are many variables involved so it can take longer. In the meantime, using RICE can alleviate pain and swelling.
RICE is an acronym used for rest, ice, compression and elevation. It is taught and explained by all types of professionals’ from personal trainers to physicians. Here are tips from Dr. Christopher Chiodo of Harvard Health Publications for the use of RICE.
1. Rest. Take the pressure off your injured foot by reducing your activity and sitting or lying down.
2. Ice. To reduce inflammation, apply ice to the injury. You can crush the ice or wrap it in a towel to be more comfortable. Put the ice in a plastic bag so it doesn't soak your clothing or furniture as it melts. You can also use an ice pack, a chemical cold pack, or even a bag of frozen peas for this purpose.
3. Compression. Wrap an elastic compression bandage around the injured area to provide support and reduce swelling. Wrap it snugly, but not tightly enough to impede the circulation of blood. If your toes turn white or purple, if they feel numb, or if you get a pins-and-needles feeling, loosen the bandage.
4. Elevation. To reduce inflammation and pain, prop your foot on a pillow or on the arm of a sofa -- anywhere it will be raised above your waist level.
What to do if the pain persists
Injured metatarsals can be serious, and you may need more than RICE to heal. Walking boots are also prescribed to aid in healing, but surgery may be needed depending on the injury. Don't let the pain persist without seeing a doctor; but until you do, heal with RICE.
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Lisa M. White
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