Take a second and think back to the last time you stubbed your toe on the coffee table that’s always in the way. Or perhaps when you last dropped something on your foot. We bet it hurt, right?
Well, that’s actually good – it means that your peripheral nervous system is working the way it should!
In fact, you wouldn’t be able to feel much of anything without peripheral nerves. Though we usually associate pain with bad things, this type of sensation plays a huge role in keeping our bodies safe – pain is our body’s way of communicating potential danger.
From that persistent heel pain when you go out on your morning jog to the strange, tingling sensation between your toes that keeps you from dancing, your peripheral nervous system is trying to tell you something is probably wrong and needs to be addressed.
Clearly, our nerves are a crucial part of our overall existence. But when they become damaged, these valuable tissues can become a detrimental aspect in our lives. And a good example of this are neuromas.
What is a Neuroma?
In simple terms, neuromas are small bundles of frayed nerve endings that ball up or attach to non-nerve tissues. This typically happens when nerves become damaged, pinched, or cut. And, though neuromas can develop almost anywhere in the feet, the most common form of this condition is Morton’s neuroma.
Also referred to as a pinched nerve, a Morton’s neuroma affects the area between the third and fourth toes – where benign nerve tissue begins to grow, thereby causing pain, tingling, numbness, and burning sensations between those digits and in the ball of the foot.
Of course, you should never ignore nerve damage of any kind; however, when left untreated, neuromas in particular can turn into bigger problems in the future. But the good news is that there are many effective treatment and preventative steps you can take to make sure this condition doesn’t become a detriment in your everyday life.
What’s even better, here at Austin Foot and Ankle Associates, we are well equipped and trained to provide you with these methods of treatment so that you can find relief quickly and have the ability to go back to performing your favorite activities safely and comfortably – without nerve pain.
But What Causes Neuromas?
Essentially, anything that causes compression or irritation of the nerve can result in a neuroma. In fact, two of the most common risk factors are wearing shoes which feature a narrow toe box and high-heeled shoes (which tend to force the toes into the toe box).
Some other risks factors that may contribute to the development of a neuroma, include:
- Ill-fitting footwear. Shoes which are too small cause the same problem as narrow and high-heeled footwear – they cram the toes together and irritate the nerves between those digits.
- Flawed biomechanics. Inherited conditions like high arches, bunions, and hammertoes can increase your risk for developing a neuroma.
- Regularly participating in sports that place extra stress on the forefeet, spending a lot of time on ladders, and working in crouched positions are all activities that can increase the risk for neuromas.
- Trauma. Foot injuries can increase the risk for neuroma development.
So, now that you are aware of what causes neuromas, you may be wondering how you can tell if you have developed this condition, which brings us to our next point.
What Are the Symptoms of a Neuroma?
The general symptom of a Morton’s neuroma is pain between the toes while walking. However, there are many other indicators you should also keep in mind, including:
- Phantom feelings. A feeling that there is something in the shoe, or that a sock is bunched up – when this isn’t the case at all.
- Pain in the ball of the foot. Especially whenever pressure is placed on it.
- Feeling that something is inside the ball of the foot. Usually felt whenever bearing weight.
- Tingling and/or numb sensation. Mostly in the ball of the foot.
- Pain in the forefoot. Or between the toes.
- Between the toes or in the forefoot.
Does one or more of these symptoms sound familiar to you?
Well, there is no need to panic – fortunately, there are many easy and efficient treatment methods we offer that can provide you with the relief you need and deserve.
How Can You Treat and Prevent Neuromas?
Here at Austin Foot and Ankle Associates, our team of experts will always use surgical treatment methods as a last resort for those conditions that either cannot be successfully treated with medication or that have not responded to conservative measures. So the initial treatment of a neuroma is typically nonsurgical.
When you come visit our office, we will perform a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles in order to determine an accurate diagnosis and create a unique treatment plan to address your specific needs.
We will also provide you with some important information so that you can take the right steps to keep your nerves healthy and reduce the risk of more problems developing in the future.
Some remedies that might be beneficial include:
- Wearing shoes with plenty of room for your toes to move freely.
- Wearing shoes with thick, shock-absorbent soles.
- Avoiding high-heeled shoes over two inches tall.
- Resting your foot and massaging the affected area whenever you feel pain.
- Applying ice to the area after completing a gentle massage.
- Using over-the-counter shoe pads.
- Wearing custom orthotics.
- Taking oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Though you will most likely find the above remedies effective for addressing neuroma pain, you should keep in mind that this relief is only temporary, and they are no substitute for professional treatment.
Whenever you feel foot pain of any kind, you should come visit us immediately – we will take the time to properly assess your situation and arrive at the correct diagnosis so that we can begin treatment by exploring the most effective and appropriate options for your unique case.
If conservative treatments do not yield the desired results, we can then start discussing surgical options.
5000 Bee Caves Rd Suite 202
Austin, TX 78746
P. 512-328-8900 F. 512-328-8903