The treatment of metatarsalgia secondary to the plantar prominence of the metatarsal heads has lead to the development of numerous orthotic devices designed to decrease pressures in these areas. In spite of the considerable cost of some of these devices, there has yet to be much objective evidence of their efficacy. This study assessed the effect of a simple metatarsal pad on pressures transmitted to the metatarsal heads. Quantitative measurements of dynamic peak pressures for 10 asymptomatic subjects with and without metatarsal pads were made using the pedobarograph. Female volunteers had a reduction in peak metatarsal pressures from 12% to 60% when a small metatarsal pad was appropriately applied to the foot. In two of five males there was a decrease in metatarsal pressure of 14% to 44%. One male had no change in pressure, while two others had an increase in pressure from 8% to 28%. When properly positioned and appropriately monitored, metatarsal pads can be an inexpensive and effective means of reducing metatarsal pressures.
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