Treatment of Neuromas
What is a neuroma?
A neuroma, more commonly known as a “pinched nerve,” is a noncancerous thickening of nerve tissue. The nerve thickening occurs when the nerve becomes entrapped, causing nerve irritation. Entrapment and irritation cause the nerve to swell, which can result in permanent damage to the nerve. Neuromas can form anywhere in the body, including the hands, neck, and feet. Neuromas of the foot most commonly appear between the third and fourth toe and can cause pain and discomfort. This is known as Morton’s neuroma, or in medical terms an intermetatarsal neuroma, meaning between the metatarsal bones.
What causes a neuroma?
Neuromas are caused by nerve entrapment, which occurs when stress is placed on the nerve. This causes the nerve to become irritated and thicken. Causes of foot neuromas may include:
- Wearing shoes that narrow near the toe area or high heels
- Having pre-existing foot conditions or deformities e.g., bunions, hammertoes
- Having certain foot traits e.g, high arch, flat feet
- Activities that place repetitive stress on the ball of your foot e.g., running
- Direct injury or trauma
What are the symptoms of a neuroma?
While a neuroma is an enlarged nerve, you are not likely to see any physical appearance of the bump between your toes. However, there are other symptoms that may indicate that the nerve is aggravated. Symptoms of a neuroma may include:
- Pain or swelling in between your toes
- A tingling, burning, or numbing sensation in the ball of your foot or between the toes
- Feeling as though something is stuck in the ball of your foot
- Pain in the ball of your foot that deepens with certain footwear, activities, or when weight is placed on the foot
How are neuromas diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or believe you have foot neuroma, an evaluation by an experienced doctor can help confirm a diagnosis. Medical evaluation usually involves a review of your medical history and symptoms, along with a thorough physical examination of the foot. During the physical portion of the exam, your doctor will press between your toes to try and stimulate your symptoms. Your doctor may also exam the affected foot for signs of other conditions to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. To further confirm a diagnosis, additional testing may be recommended. Additional testing may include X-rays or other imaging tests.
How are neuromas treated?
Morton’s neuromas that are small in size and underdeveloped can usually be treated without surgery via conservative, nonsurgical methods. Neuroma relief may be achieved with the following treatment options:
- Wide-width footwear with low heels to provide more toe room and relieve pressure on the nerve
- Orthotics and custom foot devices to alleviate nerve compression
- Padding and taping to help adjust foot function and provide symptom relief
- Corticosteroid injections to bring down the swelling
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to bring down swelling and alleviate pain
If the above treatment options do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the affected nerve.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a neuroma or would like to learn more about our available podiatric services and treatment, request an appointment with us today. Our friendly and accommodating staff provides prompt and punctual service and is dedicated to providing high-end, compassionate podiatric care. At Northeastern Foot & Ankle, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Khoury takes the time to carefully listen to and understand your medical and cosmetic concerns, recommending and providing the most appropriate treatment options paired with innovative and emerging technologies to help meet your podiatric needs. Call973.473.6665 or scroll to the top of the page to request an appointment.