Pain, tingling, and numbness in the feet can have debilitating consequences on someone’s daily life.
Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists offers top medical expertise and state-of-the-art technology in the field of nerve pain treatment. We have helped multitudes of patients manage or eliminate their nerve pain, and we can help you too.
When the cause of nerve pain is a neuroma, we provide expert care that may also include surgical intervention.
What is a Neuroma?
Pain in the feet, ankles, or lower legs may be from painful neuromas. These tend to develop following trauma and affect up to 60 percent of patients with a nerve injury.
A neuroma is a localized growth or tumor of nerve tissue. When a nerve in the foot, ankle, or leg is injured in one way or another, the stump will always attempt to regenerate toward its intended target. If this process is disorganized or incomplete, it may result in the formation of a painful neuroma.
Neuromas tend to be firm, bulbous, and often tender to the touch. Additional symptoms may include:
- Pain in the associated area, especially when weight is placed upon it. Depending on the location of the neuroma, it might feel like you are stepping on a small object or have a pebble in your shoe.
- Numbness or a tingling sensation.
A severe event does not always have to be the root cause of a neuroma. Several different factors can contribute to development, including:
- Trauma that impacts or severs a nerve, resulting in inflammation and swelling.
- An abnormality in foot structure, such as high arches or flat feet. Such abnormalities can lead to instability and excess pressure in certain areas, increasing the risk of neuroma development.
- Footwear that creates excess stress in certain areas, especially the toes.
- Stress from repetitive impacts over time, common in running and other sports.
How Neuromas are Diagnosed and Treated
The goal of any nerve pain treatment is to identify and stop the source of the pain generation, while keeping in mind that normal perception of pain is still very important to our patients’ lives.
If you are experiencing what you believe may be a neuroma—or nerve pain of any kind—it is important to have it checked promptly. Neuromas do not tend to improve without treatment and very often become worse.
Over the past decade, technology, materials, and microsurgical techniques have arrived that not only allow a surgeon to remove and reconstruct neuromas, but also help restore and rebuild normal nerve pathways.
When diagnosing the source of nerve pain, we may review your medical history and conduct a comprehensive neurological examination. Parts of this examination may include:
- Nerve function tests, in which reflexes, electrical nerve activity, and the ability of the nerves to sense stimuli may be recorded.
- Blood tests to determine whether certain factors are at cause for nerve damage.
- Imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans to detect tumors and other abnormalities.
- Removing a small portion of a nerve to test and inspect for abnormalities.
If the diagnosis is a neuroma, different approaches to treating it may be taken depending on its location, severity, and a patient’s needs.
Conservative treatment measures may include the use of custom orthotics, padding, or taping to take excess pressure off the painful area. Anti-inflammatory and pain medications might also be recommended, as may other pain-relieving treatment methods.
In some cases, advanced technology and regenerative medicine may be usable to help restore normal nerve construction and function.
In other cases, however, conservative and advanced options may not have the desired effects and not provide enough relief of discomfort. Surgery is then considered to provide more significant and longer lasting results.
The doctors at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists believe that a team approach is best for managing and treating all the risk factors that can be involved with neuroma surgery. This team consists of pain medicine doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, case managers, surgeons, physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors, and physical and occupational therapists.
The role of the surgeon within the pain team is to identify the sources of pain in the foot, ankle, and leg. Once located, these sources of pain are then eliminated or minimized. This requires a thorough examination of all potential factors influencing the pain, including treatable conditions of the peripheral nerves, bones, joints, muscles, and tendons.
For example, there are more than 25 common points of nerve compression situated away from the nerve roots. An injury or compression at one point can cause changes and swelling elsewhere along the course of the nerve, making compression more likely at additional points. This is known as the double or multiple crush phenomenon.
Whenever we perform surgery, we ensure that a patient receives thorough advice and care before, during, and after the procedure.
Trust the Experts at Austin Foot and Ankle
Neuromas in the feet and ankles can negatively affect your quality of life, but our experts have the experience and tools to help.
Whether treatments include conservative measures, advanced treatments, or surgical intervention, we will be sure to fully discuss all your options to ensure you can travel down the path of treatment in full confidence.
If you believe you may have a painful neuroma, or have had chronic pain following surgery, contact us at (512) 328-8900 to schedule an appointment at either of our two Austin locations. You may also use our online contact form to reach out to us electronically.
If you would like further information on nerve conditions, please take a moment to request your free copy of A Guide to Understanding Foot and Ankle Pain.