What is a Neuroma?
Our feet do a lot for us. Besides being humanity’s main form of transportation for thousands of years, they absorb all the stress that we put on them during our daily lives. But feet, like most parts of our bodies, can cause us severe discomfort if they are misaligned. A common yet severely painful foot condition that can develop is called a neuroma.
A neuroma is a painful condition that is sometimes referred to as a “pinched nerve”. It’s a benign growth of nerve tissue that is commonly develops between the third and fourth toes. Many patients describe the pain as feeling like they have a rock in their shoe, or a burning or shooting pain towards the toes. Frequently, there will be numbness in the affected toes. The pain can be so intense that you need to stop your activity and remove your shoes. Many patients find that wearing sandals or no shoes at all will give them some short term relief.
What Causes a Neuroma?
There is no one decisive cause for a neuroma, but there are a variety of factors that can lead to its formation. These causes include:
- Biomechanical issues, such as a high-arched foot or a flat foot are often the root cause for the development of a neuroma. These foot types create an instability in the toe joints, which can lead to the development of a neuroma.
- Trauma to the foot can cause nerve damage. The resulting inflammation or swelling of the nerve can cause development of a neuroma.
- Extended use of improper or ill-fitting footwear can cause the toes to be squeezed together and thereby compressing the nerve. Prolonged compression will lead to a neuroma. Avoid high-heeled shoes taller than two inches to help keep pressure off the forefoot area.
- Repeated stress to the foot from different occupations or sporting activities can produce or aggravate a neuroma.
Symptoms of a Neuroma
A few of the symptoms related to having a neuroma include:
- Pain in the forefoot usually isolated to the affected toes
- Swelling between the toes
- Numbness and tingling in the ball of the foot
- Pain in the ball of the foot when weight is applied
You can try to alleviate the pain caused by a neuroma by:
- Wearing proper fitting footwear
- Using Orthotics
- Avoiding high-heels
- Resting your foot
If the pain persists, you will need to schedule a visit with the professional chiropodists at Medical Foot Solutions. There are options to help get you back on your feet, pain-free.
Orthotic therapy involves the placement of specially designed shoe insoles made just for you to help alleviate pressure on the affected area of the foot. Orthotics can help realign your foot, back and hips into the correct position.
A cortisone injection can sometimes be the single quickest way to relieve a patient’s discomfort. Cortisone is administered to reduce the inflammation around the nerve and shrink some of the tissue surrounding tissue. Though cortisone is considered a short-term solution, its effects can last several months when combined with orthotics and/or a change in foot wear.
Surgical treatment is another option if orthotics or injection therapy are not successful. The surgical treatment involves numbing the affected area with local anesthesia. (Xylocaine and Marcaine are typically used). Once the area is numb, a tiny incision (about 1cm) is made in between the toes. The Transverse ligament, which is the tissue that holds the metatarsal bones together tightly, is identified and cut. This will allow the metatarsals to separate slightly, thereby providing more space for the nerve. This process known as decompression of the nerve. This procedure can be highly successful when it is combined with a change of footwear and/or orthotics.
Surgery is always a last resort, and many of our patients with a neuroma respond very well to non-invasive treatments. Book an appointment with the team at Medical Foot Solutions today to find out how we can help you take care of your neuroma and have you feeling yourself again.