A neuroma is a noncancerous nerve tumor that usually forms between the third and fourth toes, causing discomfort and irritation. High heels, tight shoes, and repetitive stress can all contribute to the development of a neuroma. This condition is sometimes called Morton’s neuroma because it was first described by Dr. Thomas George Morton in the late 19th century.
Neuromas, unfortunately, typically don't resolve on their own without some form of treatment. Once a neuroma has developed, it's unlikely to disappear without intervention. If you suspect you have a neuroma or are experiencing symptoms like tingling, numbness, or pain in your feet, consult the board-certified podiatrists at Massapequa Podiatry Associates. We can properly diagnose your condition and recommend the most suitable treatment options based on your specific situation.
Diagnosing Morton’s Neuroma
Morton's neuroma is diagnosed with a physical examination, imaging tests, and a description of your symptoms. Common symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Pain. The most prominent symptom is a sharp, shooting pain in the ball of the foot. This pain can radiate toward the affected toes or extend backward into the arch of the foot. It's often described as a burning or tingling sensation that worsens with activity and is relieved with rest.
- Feeling of a foreign object in the sock. Some individuals with Morton's neuroma report feeling as though there's a small pebble or fold in their sock, even when there isn't.
- Numbness or tingling. Numbness and tingling sensations might occur in the toes or the ball of the foot.
- Limited range of motion. The discomfort from Morton's neuroma might cause you to alter your gait or the way you walk, potentially leading to changes in your overall foot mechanics.
Conservative Options for Neuroma Treatment
In many cases, neuromas can be treated with nonsurgical options that focus on relieving painful symptoms.
- Orthotics and shoe modifications. Sometimes, all you need is a little shoe makeover. Custom orthotics or shoe inserts can help redistribute pressure on your feet, relieving the stress on the neuroma and reducing pain.
- Change your footwear game. Bid farewell to those pointy-toed shoes that have been causing you grief. Opt for shoes with a roomy toe box and adequate arch support.
- Medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation associated with neuromas.
- Physical therapy. Gentle exercises and stretches can help alleviate discomfort by promoting flexibility and strengthening the muscles around the affected area.
- Cryotherapy. Applying ice packs to the area can help reduce inflammation and provide short-term pain relief.
Advanced Treatment Options for Morton’s Neuroma
The severity of neuroma symptoms and the effectiveness of treatments can vary widely from person to person. What works well for one individual might not be as effective for another. When conservative treatments fail to provide the desired pain relief, your podiatrist may recommend more advanced treatment options.
- Sclerosing injections. Injections containing substances like alcohol or steroids can help shrink the neuroma and reduce its symptoms.
- Laser treatments. Laser treatments can target and shrink the neuroma, often without the need for incisions.
- Shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate blood flow, promote healing, and reduce pain associated with neuromas.
- Nerve decompression surgery. This minimally invasive procedure involves releasing pressure on the affected nerve by cutting surrounding tissue. It's like giving your nerve some breathing room.
- Neurectomy. In more severe cases, your podiatrist might recommend removing the affected nerve altogether. Don't worry–your foot will still function fine without that particular nerve.
Say Goodbye to Foot Pain
Having a neuroma doesn't mean you're stuck with discomfort forever. There are a variety of both nonsurgical and surgical options available to help you find relief and get back to your everyday activities without wincing at every step.
Remember, the key to effective treatment is communication. Don't be afraid to ask questions, voice your concerns, and work closely with your podiatrist to determine the best treatment approach. Neuromas can be bothersome, but with the right treatment, you'll be well on your way to happier, healthier steps!