If you frequently feel like there’s something stuck in your shoe or you have painful swelling, burning, or tingling around your toes and the ball of your foot, you might have a neuroma. It’s a benign growth of tissue on or around a nerve. While it’s sometimes referred to as a “nerve tumor”, neuromas aren’t cancerous or life-threatening.
However, they typically don’t go away on their own, so it’s best not to ignore them. The impact of untreated neuromas continually affects your comfort and mobility. At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, P.C., we routinely treat patients with neuromas and are often able to help them avoid surgery if treatment starts quickly.
What Causes Neuromas?
There’s not one absolute reason, but it’s usually the result of some type of foot irritation. Our patients often experience them due to:
- Irregularly shaped feet
- High-heeled shoes
- Shoes with narrow toe boxes
- Foot injuries
- Sports that flex the ball of the foot repeatedly
Treatments for Neuromas
If you’re someone who likes to run, golf, and ski, or you play football, soccer, and tennis, you may find these activities limited due to foot pain caused by neuromas. Here are some other problems resulting from untreated neuromas:
- Applying pressure to the accelerator becomes painful.
- If you favor one foot over the other, this abnormal walking pattern may cause other problems, such as arthritis and back pain.
- There’s also the threat of permanent nerve damage if you wait too long for professional care, which means you’ll have constant tingling or numbness in your foot.
There are different types of neuromas—what we often see are called Morton’s neuromas, which usually form between the third and fourth toes. Once one of our podiatrists confirmed that you have a neuroma, they might suggest various strategies for addressing it:
Change footwear that offers a lot of wiggle room for your toes, features heels less than two inches, and provides shock absorption and support for your arch.
Ice, massage, over-the-counter pain relievers, and rest may help with swelling and pain, but won’t cure the neuroma.
Alcohol or Steroid Injections
If the options listed above don’t make the pain manageable, injections may be necessary.
Metatarsal pads, arch supports, or toe spacers may help to relieve pressure on the plantar nerve affected by the neuroma.
These may be advised if your foot has structural defects that contribute to neuroma development, such as flat feet or high arches. Having orthotics custom-made for your feet ensures they’re the perfect fit, unlike taking a gamble on mass-produced orthotics, which may not be an exact match to your foot and aren’t designed to address specific foot conditions.
A physical therapist may be able to help you increase your foot’s mobility and strength and improve your balance with stretches and exercises.
We use advanced technology such as Multiwave Locked System laser therapy as a non-invasive, painless option to reduce pain and inflammation and help your body repair itself. The procedure is fast, requires minimal recovery time, and has long-term results.
This form of treatment is also less invasive than surgery but can cause some discomfort or dull pain in the hours and days afterward. Around 90 percent of patients in an FDA study experienced decreased pain after shockwave treatment. Procedures are scheduled in several short sessions and minimal recovery time is required.
At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, we make every effort to resolve foot issues without surgery. However, if your neuroma grows worse without intervention, you may find that surgery is unavoidable. There can be some undesirable side effects to foot surgery:
- Pain and swelling for up to three months after the procedure
- Permanent loss of sensation
- Extended recovery time