Deborah Meaden, 60, is best known for her unshakeable demeanour on Dragons’ Den. A hard-headed businesswoman, she knows how to negotiate a good deal while keeping her cards close to her chest. In 2013, she showed viewers a lighter side to her personality, when she joined BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up. It was during this time that she faced an altogether different challenge – the TV star sustained an injury that she has never fully recovered from.
Speaking to Closer Magazine, she said: “I still have permanent pain in the balls of my feet, which is a constant reminder that I did the show.”
The dancing show’s intensive training regime took its toll on Meaden: “It started after I spent 10 hours a day waltzing and I put too much pressure on them.”
According to the NHS, pain in the ball of a person’s foot is known as metatarsalgia.
Lifestyle decisions can trigger the condition.
As the NHS pointed out, pain in the ball of person’s foot is often caused by exercising too much or wearing shoes that are too tight.
“Some people also have a foot shape that puts extra pressure on the ball of the foot – for example, if you have small curled-up toes (hammer toes) or high arches,” said the NHS.
According to the Mayo clinic, symptoms of metatarsalgia can include:
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of a person’s foot — the part of the sole just behind the toes
- Pain that worsens when a person stands, runs, flexes their feet or walks — especially barefoot on a hard surface — and improves when they rest
- Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
- A person may feel they have a pebble in their shoe
Fortunately, measures can be taken to alleviate the pain.
The NHS recommended the following:
- Rest and raise the foot when possible
- Put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours
- Wear wide comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole
- Use soft insoles or pads in shoes
- A person should try to lose weight if they are overweight
- Try regular gentle stretching exercises
- Take paracetamol
The NHS also warned against taking ibuprofen for the first 48 hours after the injury and said to avoid walking or standing for long periods.
The health body advised against wearing high heels or tight pointy shoes.
If the pain persists, more specialist treatment may be recommended. The Dragons’ Den star has regular steroid injections to alleviate the pain.
She said: “Everybody is injured in some way (on the show) but now I need to have steroid injections in my feet to keep them supple.
“I should probably have them every six weeks, but I leave it until they hurt too much and then I go to see my specialist, who tells me off for letting it get to that stage.”
People may also benefit from seeing a podiatrist.
As Bupa explained: “Podiatrists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and disorders that affect the foot, ankle and lower limb, and how they react to stresses placed upon them.”
It added: “They can help combat conditions such as heel pain and pain from the thickening of tissue underneath the foot, toe deformities and pain from movement of the foot as well as providing assistance in easing achilles, calf, shin and knee pain.”
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