A neuroma is a thickening of the nerve tissue that helps the body parts to develop and the most common neuroma in the foot is Morton’s neuroma, also known as an interdigital neuroma. This is usually a painful condition that affects one of the nerves between the toes. Neuroma occurs when toes get squeezed together for a long time which causes it to swell and then to thicken. The swelling is usually painful when you walk on that foot and wearing some shoes like narrow shoes or high-heeled can worsen the pain.
Morton’s neuroma can occur in one or both feet and especially the nerve between third and fourth toes, but can also affect second and third toes. The thickening of the nerve can occur at any age but mostly affect the middle-aged women who tend to wear high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the feet.
Typically there is no outward sign of this condition like a lump. Instead, it causes a very painful burning pain in your foot and usually feels worse when you walk or wear shoes that squash the feet. The symptoms become intense as the neuroma enlarges and there are changes of the nerve thickening from temporary to permanent. There may also be some numbness in your toes. But you can reduce the pain by removing the shoes and rubbing your foot.
Anything that can cause compression of the nerve will usually lead to nerve thickening. One of the most common causes is wearing a tapered toe or high-heels that cause the toes to be forced into the box. Also, people with foot deformities like hammer toes, flat fleet are at higher risk of developing neuroma. Other causes include sports activities like running or playing football.
Usually, the doctor will identify neuroma in the foot during a physical exam where he or she will squeeze on the bottom or top of your foot or toes to see if it hurts. Also, he or she can order for an X-ray of the foot to make sure it is the condition and nothing else is causing the pain. The best time to visit the doctor is early in the development of symptoms.
The treatment depends on how long you have had the condition and how severe it is. There are two treatment options for neuroma, non-surgical and surgical treatment
Non-surgical treatment. For mild to moderate neuroma, treatment options include changing of footwear, use of an orthotic device, painkillers, injections of steroid medication and losing weight to reduce the foot strain due to being overweight.
Surgery. Surgery may be considered for people who do not respond to non-surgical treatments. During the surgery, a small incision is made on top or bottom of your foot so that the surgeon can access your nerve. The doctor can solve this problem by either increasing the space around the nerve or removing part of the nerve.
Regardless of whether you have undergone non-surgical or surgical treatment, your surgeon will tell you long-term measures to keep the symptoms from returning.