What are Neuromas?
Simply put, a neuroma is a swollen or thickened nerve located in the ball of your foot. The pain usually occurs in the toes near the enlargement. It develops when your toes are squeezed together frequently for extended periods of time. When the bones are squeezed together, they then rub together repeatedly which then causes swelling. The swelling that occurs makes it painful to walk. A neuroma can occur between any of the long bones (metatarsals) in your forefoot. However, it is most common between the third and fourth toes. If it is between the third and fourth toes it’s then called a Morton’s neuroma. Neuromas should not be confused with cancerous tumors. A neuroma is benign and non-cancerous.
What Causes Neuromas?
There are many different causes of neuromas including:
- Improperly fitting footwear
- Gout or rheumatoid arthritis
- Flat feet
- Very high arches
- Forefoot problems like bunions and hammertoes
How do I Know if I have a Neuroma?
The most common symptom is a sharp or burning pain that will worsen when you walk. Many people describe as feeling like there is a small lump in the ball of the foot. You may also experience pain or numbness between the toes, as well as on the bottom of the foot. Sometimes a clicking sensation is felt while walking. Removing your shoes can often relieve the pain. Actually seeing the bump on the bottom of your foot is extremely rare.
How are Neuromas Treated?
Neuromas usually respond well to conservative treatments. A lot of the time this problem can be treated at home. If you have a neuroma, the first thing you can do is change your footwear. Avoid all pointed, tight and high-heeled shoes. Wear shoes that leave plenty of room for your toes to wiggle inside. If changing your footwear doesn’t help, you may need to purchase a metatarsal pad. This pad helps spread the metatarsal bones and reduces the pressure on the swollen nerve. It’s best to see your podiatrist so they can place the pad.
To relieve the pain, ice the ball of your foot for 10-15 minutes at a time. Remember not to place the ice directly on the skin, use a cloth in-between. To reduce swelling and pain take anti-inflammatory medications. Also, rest your feet whenever possible. If you are physically active, reduce your routines if they involve running or jumping. Lastly, a foot massage could help too! It relaxes the muscles surrounding the affected nerve.
If conservative measures do not relieve the pain caused by the neuroma, surgery may be necessary. Set up an appointment with a podiatrist like Dr. Hal Abrahamson. The foot specialist will examine your feet before recommending surgery. The surgical procedure actually removes the neuroma and as well as the nerve. You may have permanent numbness in your feet where the neuroma was removed. because of this. Recovery for from this surgery usually only takes 3-6 weeks.
Do you have pain, or any funny sensations in the ball of your foot? Give any of Aadvanced Foot Care Associates’ three New York locations a call. You don’t have to live with foot pain!