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Hello, I’m asking on behalf of my 54 year old mother. Here’s what she has described:
For the past few days, when I step on the floor, my left foot feels like there’s something swollen on the ball of my foot. However, after constant standing due to spring cleaning today, it has swelled up terribly. It doesn’t hurt much unless I walk or exert pressure on it.
She hopes to know if the swelling would go down with time and if applying hot compress would help. I have read that otc ibuprofen would help ease the inflammation, is that true? Thank you. 🙂
Your mom’s description sounds typical of Metatarsalgia, a fairly common condition affecting the weight-bearing bones in your foot (the metatarsals).
It’s more common in older people and obese people, and is exacerbated by running/walking/standing – ie any weight-bearing activity.
The most common causes of metatarsalgia are:
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Poor footwear
- High impact physical activity (ie running and other activities which place additional stress on the foot)
Gout is also a possibility (this usually affects the big toe), but seems less likely given that this is a very painful condition.
Taking an anti-inflammatory painkiller (NSAID) like ibuprofen will help with the swelling. NSAIDs are also available in topical gel form from your pharmacist (eg. Fastum gel).
Other measures she could try are:
- Icing (wrap an ice pack in a towel, use for 20 minutes a few time a day)
- Rest and elevation of the foot
- Proper footwear (not tight-fitting, high heels etc). Consider seeing a podiatrist for insoles, if necessary.
If these measures don’t work to improve the swelling/pain, and her condition doesn’t get better after a week or 2, do consider seeing a doctor for a proper physical exam and treatment, which may include a steroid injection for more rapid relief.