Foot Neuromas and Their Treatment
Have you ever bumped your elbow and hit your “funny bone?” Then you know how uncomfortable that combination of pain, tingling, and numbness can feel. Now imagine that something keeps hitting on a nerve and causing those sensations in your toes and forefoot. Such symptoms often indicate neuromas in feet.
Toe Anatomy and Morton’s Neuroma
The front half of your foot is made up of your toe bones and the long, slender ones that connect your toes to the bones in the rearfoot. They are called metatarsals, and in between them run narrow nerves that send and receive messages to and from your toes and brain.
When your feet are pinched in tight shoes or you have a structural problem that causes the metatarsals to move out of position with each step, the nerves between them can be compressed. If this happens repeatedly or for long periods of time, the nerve tissue can be damaged or swell up and form a “tumor” (thickened spot).
Most neuromas happen in women, whether from shoe styles or a natural tendency to structural problems like flat feet, high arches, or overpronation. However, anyone can get them, especially if there is some sort of trauma to the nerve, as from an injury or from standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces. If you notice pain in the ball of your foot when you put weight on it, this could be one of the reasons.
Note that neuromas can happen in other places in the foot too, such as your heel or ankle joint. Any spot where a nerve runs between two firm surfaces is susceptible. Certain activities like running or sports where you spend time pushing off with your toes (think tennis, basketball, volleyball) can lead to this problem as well.
The Progression of Pinched Nerve Pain
The discomfort will likely start out slowly. You notice it one day when you wear a certain pair of shoes, or after you have taken a walk. The pain, burning sensation, or numbness may go away as soon as you take off the shoes or stop and massage your foot for a minute.
If you don’t treat the condition, the pain will begin to occur more frequently and get worse. It may stick around for days or weeks, and can become a chronic problem that makes it difficult to walk any distance no matter what shoes you are wearing.
What You Can Do for Neuromas in Feet
The first thing is to check your shoes. If they don’t match the shape of your foot but instead force the toes into space that is too small to fit them, you are courting trouble. Aim for footwear that has plenty of room in the toes; laces, buckles or ties that allow you to adjust their tightness; and thick, cushioned insoles. You should avoid high heels and pointed styles.
You can also try cushioned pads in your shoes in the painful area. These can protect the foot bones from pressure. Resting, massage and ice therapy can also help with painful symptoms.
Pinched Nerves Need Help from Foot Experts
Because the condition will continue to progress without treatment, it is important to come and see us at the first sign of symptoms. We can confirm what’s going on with your feet and recommend the best treatment for stopping the progression of your nerve damage. That may include padding, taping, medication, or custom orthotics. The goal is to avoid surgery, but we can do a procedure to remove the growth as well if other remedies don’t ease your pain.
Reach Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists by phone at (949) 364-9255 (WALK) to get help. You can also connect with us online to schedule an appointment at our office in Ladera Ranch, CA, which also serves the surrounding communities of Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Las Flores, and Rancho Santa Margarita.