Just about anybody can imagine the feeling of getting a small rock stuck in your shoe. But imagine if you couldn’t ever get it out. For people with a Morton’s neuroma, that’s not too far from reality.
In this uncomfortable and frustrating condition, tissues near a nerve become thickened due to repetitive injury—most frequently in the ball of the foot, either between the second and third or between the third and fourth toes.
When you bear weight, that thickened tissue pushes right into the delicate nerve. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. And while at first it might seem like an unusual tingling sensation, more serious neuromas can cause shooting or burning pain, particularly during activity or when wearing certain shoes.
What Causes Neuromas?
Neuromas can be caused by a variety of different factors. These can include:
- Faulty foot biomechanics. Some foot types are better (or worse) than others at absorbing shocks and distributing pressure around the foot. If you have a particularly flat or high arched foot, for example, it could lead to increased pressure on the balls of the feet and develop a greater risk of developing a neuroma.
- Poor footwear. Shoes that scrunch your toes together or throw all of your weight on the front of the feet—high heels are notorious for both—may irritate the nerve and the surrounding tissue, leading to a neuroma.
- Activities and injuries. Playing high-impact sports, working physically demanding jobs, or even doing certain repetitive motions can stress the feet and potentially cause a neuroma.
What Should I Do About My Neuroma?
We strongly encourage you to seek help from a foot and ankle specialist, such as the team at Silicon Valley Podiatry Group, as soon as you notice symptoms of a neuroma.
Without treatment, the symptoms of neuromas usually become worse. Seeking help from a professional early and getting their treatment options and advice may help you avoid or delay surgery, or at the very least make any surgery easier, with a higher rate of long-term success.
Our office provides an in-house diagnostic ultrasound, which is extremely effective at mapping out the precise size, location, and severity of soft tissue injuries such as neuromas.
Conservative Treatment Options
Mild neuromas may sometimes be managed using a combination of home care and, when necessary, additional tools provided or recommended by your podiatrist.
These may include:
- You may have to switch to shoes with more cushioning, more support, and more room for the toes to wiggle about. In particular, educating women on how to make smart choices about what shoes to wear, how often to wear them, and how to wear them safely (even heels!) is something our practice is very passionate about.
- Padding and taping. Various neuroma pads, arch supports, tapping and other simple tools used at the ball of the foot may be able to relieve stress around the neuroma.
- Our practice carries our own line of advanced medical-grade prefabricated orthotics, as well as custom orthotics. These inserts are often a great choice for people with neuromas, particularly if faulty foot biomechanics are at least partially to blame.
- Pain may be temporarily managed with anti-inflammatory medications, or over the longer term with cortisone injections.
Surgical Treatment Options
A severe neuroma that cannot be managed conservatively may require a surgical procedure to remove the nerve. This will eliminate the pain, though it may also result in some degree of permanent numbness to the affected toes.
Although there are risks associated with any surgical procedure, neuroma surgery is usually very safe, with recovery times as fast as just a few weeks. However, we will be sure to go over the details, risks, and expectations with you thoroughly before your procedure.
Remember: the earlier you seek treatment for a neuroma, the more likely you will be able to avoid surgery and go back to enjoying your daily activities with a minimum amount of downtime or discomfort. To schedule an appointment with Silicon Valley Podiatry Group, please call us today at (408) 358-2666.