What is Neuromas?
A neuroma is a painful growth of nerve tissue in the foot – most often between the third and fourth toe bones, it forms when bones in the feet press together and irritate a nerve. This may be caused by wearing tight or poorly fitting shoes, or by repeated stress on the foot. Neuromas often form in women who wear high heels frequently, injury or a foot deformity can also cause a neuroma. As a neuroma gets worse, it can cause a lot of pain and keep you from activities you enjoy. Fortunately, there are many neuromas treatments that provide relief.
Symptoms of a neuroma often start slowly. As the nerve irritation gets worse, you may feel:
• A sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot; especially when walking, Many people try to ease the pain by rubbing their foot.
• Tingling or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
• A feeling that you have a stone in your shoe, or that your sock is wrinkled.
• A painful lump that reproduces your symptoms when touched.
The podiatrists at Foot Centers of NC are highly trained in treating neuromas. In most cases, painful symptoms can be reduced without surgery. Your podiatrist will evaluate your symptoms and look at your medical history for any other foot or nerve problems. He will gently press on different parts of your foot to indicate the source of your pain. Certain types of tests may be used to diagnose a neuroma. They also help to rule out other problems, such as pain caused by a stress fracture. Some of the most common tests include X-rays which show bone or joint problems, ultrasound which uses sound waves to view tissues in the foot, nerve blocks which numb the area around a nerve, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which provides images of bones and soft tissues in the foot.
Once your doctor treats the neuroma, it is important to wear supportive shoes that are roomy enough for you to wiggle your toes. Avoid high heels. Your doctor can tell you what types of shoes are best. You should also avoid activities that put a lot of stress on the foot, such as jumping or running on hard or uneven surfaces, See your podiatrist if your symptoms return or other foot problems arise. For severe problems, your doctor may recommend treating the nerve directly. Left untreated, neuromas often get worse. The following treatments may be used to reduce painful symptoms;
Shoe Changes and Orthotics Shoes with good support, a wide toe box, and thick soles can help prevent nerve irritation. Avoid wearing high heels. If needed, custom shoe inserts (orthotics) can help improve foot function and provide extra support for your feet.
Padding and Taping
Padding and adhesive tape may be placed on the ball of the foot. This can help correct abnormal foot function and decrease pressure on the nerve. Physical Therapy Massaging your feet and using ice packs can help reduce pain and swelling. Sound waves or whirlpools can also help provide relief Medication Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce tissue swelling. Cortisone injections are sometimes used to relieve swelling in the nerve. Treating the Nerve If other treatments have not helped your condition, your podiatrist may suggest treating the nerve directly. This can be done in one of two ways; Surgery may be used to remove the neuroma. This procedure is done in an outpatient surgical center. During surgery, a local anesthetic numbs your foot. An incision is then made to remove the nerve. You will be able to go home the same day of your surgery. Your doctor will let you know how soon you can get back on your feet and you can often resume normal activities within 3 to 6 weeks.
Injections of an alcohol solution (sclerotherapy) may be used to permanently destroy the nerve. These injections are done in your doctor’s office and take just a few minutes to perform. Several treatments may be needed. To end your pain and prevent any future problems caused by neuromas, be sure to have regular checkups and follow your podiatrist’s instructions and plan of care.