A neuroma or, Morton’s neuroma, is a painful condition often referred to as a pinched nerve, swollen nerve or nerve tumour
Anything that causes compression or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of a neuroma. It may develop in various parts of the body, the most common neuroma in the foot is a Morton’s neuroma, which occurs at the base of the third and fourth toes. The result is pain, burning, tingling or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
People with certain foot deformities—bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, or more flexible feet—are at higher risk for developing a neuroma. An injury or other type of trauma to the area may also lead to a neuroma.
Early diagnosis of a neuroma greatly lessens the need for more invasive treatments and may avoid surgery.
Symptoms of Neuroma
The symptoms begin gradually and may go away temporarily by massaging the foot or by avoiding aggravating shoes. Over time the symptoms progressively worsen and may persist for several days or weeks. The symptoms become more intense as the neuroma enlarges and the temporary changes in the nerve become permanent. Symptoms may include:
- Tingling, burning, or numbness
- A feeling that something is inside the ball of the foot, or that there’s a rise in the shoe or a sock is bunched up
Prevention is better than cure
- Change to shoes with lower heels
- Wear supportive shoes with a roomy toe box
- Use shoe inserts/orthotics prescribed by a Podiatrist
When to see a Podiatrist
Treatment approaches vary according to the severity of the problem. A Podiatrist will be able to provide advice and an effective treatment depending on the severity of the condition. Surgery may be considered in patients who have not received adequate relief from other treatments. Generally, there are two surgical approaches to treating a neuroma—the affected nerve is either removed or released.
Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot problems. Prompt action is important. Problems which are left without assessment or treatment may result in major health risks.