Neuroma of the Foot: What You Should Know
Unexplained foot pain can be concerning and frustrating. Here, we discuss one potential reason for uncomfortable symptoms, Morton's neuroma. Generally speaking, a neuroma is a pinched nerve, or thickening of nerve tissue somewhere in the body. Morton's neuroma is named after doctor Thomas George Morton, a surgeon who first described this condition that often occurs in the space between the third and fourth metatarsals (toe bones). The symptoms of Morton's neuroma include numbness, pain, a sensation of having a small pebble under the ball of the foot, tingling, or burning. These occur as a result of irritation to or compression of the plantar nerve on the bottom of the foot.
Who Gets a Foot Neuroma?
It seems that the primary risk factor that contributes to Morton's neuroma is pressure on the toes. This can result from wearing high-heeled shoes or footwear that narrows at the toes. Pressure may also result from repetitive movements during physical activities like running, jogging, tennis, and aerobics. In fact, studies indicate that women runners tend to experience this condition more than others.
Treating Morton's Neuroma with Home Care
Whenever foot pain occurs, it should be addressed. At the first signs of nerve compression in the foot, a few steps can be taken. These include:
- Modifying activity. Any activity that exacerbates discomfort should be avoided until pain and irritation subside.
- Icing the painful area a few times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, to improve comfort.
- Massaging the foot daily to stimulate the healing of nerve tissue.
- Wearing a special pad under the ball of the foot in between the affected toe bones to relieve pressure. Neuroma pads separate the metatarsals to better disperse pressure across the foot.
Clinical Care for a Foot Neuroma
Most people do not have the language to describe conditions affecting the foot. If you have pain, your responsibility is to see a doctor. Here, it is our responsibility to perform a thorough consultation and examination to properly diagnose the source of pain. If home remedies do not resolve the symptoms of Morton's neuroma, a doctor may create a semi-permanent orthotic device to better offload metatarsal pressure. A local anesthetic or cortisone can be injected into the area of pain to achieve longer-lasting relief. In some cases, the nerve itself may be treated with a concentration of alcohol and anesthetic. Physical therapy may also be prescribed. Surgery is an option only when all other therapies have failed to achieve lasting pain relief.
Don't wait to get help for foot pain. Contact our Passaic, NJ office at (973) 473-6665. Here at Northeastern Foot & Ankle, we provide professional service in a friendly atmosphere.