Dealing with Neuromas
A neuroma is a benign but painful condition that occurs when nerve tissue grows into a tumor-like structure, usually between the third and fourth toes. It can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling, and pain in the ball of the foot. In fact, patients sometimes say that it feels like walking with a rock in your shoe. At NY Foot Health we believe informed patients make the best decisions about their podiatric health. Below is some information to help you better understand neuromas and what to do about them.
Finding the Cause
There isn’t one particular cause of neuromas, but foot doctors can point to a number of contributing factors:
· Trauma—an injury to the foot can damage the nerve, causing swelling and inflammation.
· Biomechanical abnormalities—arch problems (either high arch or flat feet) can induce a neuroma to form because of the instability these conditions cause to the toe joints.
· Repetitive stress—constant pounding of the forefoot due to sports or work situations can lead to a neuroma.
· Improper shoes—heels higher than two inches increase the pressure on the forefoot. Those with pointy or narrow toe boxes that squeeze the toes together also increase the risk of a neuroma. Shoe issues may be the reason that more women than men get neuromas.
If you experience discomfort in the ball of your foot, it’s important to visit your podiatrist to have it evaluated. (If you don’t have a podiatrist, you can find one through our online directory.) The foot doctor will examine the area of the foot that is giving you pain and probably order an x-ray as well. In addition, the podiatrist will ask questions about your work and leisure activities and get a complete medical history. If a neuroma is diagnosed, an individual treatment plan will be developed for you. It may include:
· Choosing shoes with thick, shock-absorbing soles and insoles designed to keep pressure off the forefoot. High heels should be avoided, and toe boxes should be wide and roomy.
· Resting the affected foot.
· Icing or massaging the neuroma to relieve pain.
· Padding or taping to change the biomechanical operation of the foot.
· Orthotics to shift pressure away from the front of the foot.
· Surgery—if all other options fail or the neuroma is too big to be relieved in other ways.