A neuroma, also called a “pinched nerve” or a nerve tumor is a non-cancerous growth of nerve tissue. It is usually found between the third and fourth toes. It brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
Causes of Neuromas
Different factors can contribute to the formation of a neuroma:
- Foot deformities, such as a high-arched foot or a flat foot, can lead to the formation of a neuroma. These foot types bring on instability around the toe joints, leading to the development of the condition.
- Trauma can cause damage to the nerve, resulting in inflammation or swelling of the nerve.
- Improper footwear that causes the toes to be squeezed together is problematic. Avoid high-heeled shoes higher than two inches.
- Repeated stress can create or aggravate a neuroma.
Diagnosis of Neuromas
Your podiatrist will examine and likely X-ray the affected area to suggest a treatment plan that best suits your individual case.
Treatment options vary with the severity of each neuroma. For simple, undeveloped neuromas, a pair of thick-soled shoes with a wide toe box is often adequate treatment to relieve symptoms, allowing the condition to diminish on its own. For more severe conditions, however, additional treatment or surgery may be necessary to remove it.
- Padding and Taping: Special padding at the ball of the foot may change the abnormal foot function and relieve the symptoms caused by the neuroma.
- Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease pain and inflammation caused by the neuroma.
- Shoe Inserts: Custom shoe inserts, called, “orthotics,” made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. Orthotics may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the condition.
- Surgery: When early treatments fail podiatric surgery may be necessary. The procedure, which removes the inflamed and enlarged nerve, can usually be conducted on an outpatient basis, with a recovery time that is often just a few weeks. Your podiatrist will thoroughly describe the surgical procedures to be used and the results you can expect. Any pain following surgery is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist.