What is a Neuroma? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
A neuroma, a nerve tumor, is a painful condition often referred to as a “pinched nerve.” It is a benign growth of nerve tissue, typically found between the third and fourth toes. The most noted symptoms of a neuroma is pain between the toes while walking. Many find relief when they stop walking, take off their shoes, or rub the painful area. A common description of the pain is as if there is a stone in your shoe. Women are among the majority of people who develop neuromas.
What causes Neuroma?
The cause of a neuroma is unclear, but there are factors that can contribute to the formation of a neuroma:
- Biomechanical deformities: Biomechanical deformities, like a high-arched foot or flat foot, bring on instability in the toe-joints, and could lead to the formation of a neuroma.
- Trauma: Trauma to your foot can damage a nerve, resulting in inflammation and/or swelling of the nerve.
- Improper footwear: Improper footwear can cause the toes to be pushed together, and can increase pressure in the forefoot area.
- Repeated stress: Repeated stress of the foot can create or aggravate a neuroma.
- Pain in your forefoot and between your toes
- Tingling and numbness in the ball of your foot
- Swelling in between your toes
- Pain in the ball of your foot when you place weight on it
- Burning sensation between the toes
Best shoes for a Neuroma?
- You’ll want to wear shoes with plenty of room for your toes to move, low heels, and laces/buckles that allow you to adjust the width.
- You should look for a shoe with thick, shock-absorbent soles.
- You should also be wearing insoles that are designed to keep pressure off your foot.
- Shoes with high-heeled shoes over two inches tall should be avoided.
Resting your feet and massaging the affected area can temporarily relieve pressure in the affected area.
When do I need to see a podiatrist?
You should seek care from a podiatrist at the first sign of pain and/or discomfort. Neuromas often get worse if left untreated. A podiatrist will treat the neuroma depending on its severity. It is important to identify a neuroma early in development to avoid surgical treatment options.
Simple, undeveloped neuromas can be adequately treated with a wide toe box to relieve symptoms. For more severe conditions, additional treatment or surgery may be necessary to remove the neuroma. The primary goal of early treatment is to relieve pressure on the neuroma, as to avoid further development. Padding and taping at the ball of the foot may change abnormal foot function that can relieve symptoms caused by the neuroma.
Medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be given to relieve some pain and inflammation caused by a neuroma.
Orthotic inserts can be made by your podiatrist to control your foot function. Orthotic inserts can reduce your symptoms and prevent further development of the condition.
When early treatments fail and the neuroma develops past the option for conservative treatment, surgical treatment becomes necessary. The outpatient surgical treatment removes the inflamed and enlarged nerve.
The exact cause of a neuroma is not exactly known, but the preventative steps below have been known to help.
- Make sure your shoes have enough room in the front of the shoes, so that your toes are not compressed
- Wearing shoes with adequate padding at the ball of the foot
- Avoid prolonged time in shoes that have a narrow toe box or a heel greater than two inches