What are NEUROMAS
A neuroma is a painful condition, also referred to as a “pinched nerve” or a nerve tumor. It is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toes. It brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
Although the exact cause for this condition is unclear, a number of factors can contribute to the formation of a neuroma:
- Biomechanical deformities, such as a high-arched foot or a flat foot, can lead to the formation of a neuroma. These foot types bring on instability around the toe joints, leading to the development of the condition.
- Trauma can cause damage to the nerve, resulting in inflammation or swelling of the nerve.
- Improper footwear that causes the toes to be squeezed together is problematic. Avoid high-heeled shoes higher than two inches. Shoes at this height can increase pressure on the forefoot area.
- Repeated stress, common to many occupations, can create or aggravate a neuroma.
The principal symptom associated with a neuroma is pain between the toes while walking. Those suffering from the condition often find relief by stopping their walk, taking off their shoe, and rubbing the affected area. At times, the patient will describe the pain as similar to having a stone in his or her shoe. The vast majority of people who develop neuromas are women.
The symptoms of a neuroma include the following:
- Pain in the forefoot and between the toes
- Tingling and numbness in the ball of the foot
- Swelling between the toes
- Pain in the ball of the foot when weight is placed on it
When to See your Podiatrist
Podiatric medical care should be sought at the first sign of pain or discomfort. If left untreated, neuromas tend to get worse.
The primary goal of most early treatment regimens is to relieve pressure on areas where a neuroma develops. Your podiatric physician will examine and likely X-ray the affected area and suggest a treatment plan that best suits your individual case.
Treatment options vary with the severity of each neuroma, and identifying the neuroma early in its development is important to avoid surgical correction. For simple, undeveloped neuromas, a pair of thick-soled shoes with a wide toe box is often adequate treatment to relieve symptoms, allowing the condition to diminish on its own. For more severe conditions, however, additional treatment or surgery may be necessary to remove the tumor.
*Information courtesy of the American Podiatric Medical Association. www.apma.org