Neuromas: Understanding Your Foot Pain

Neuropathy can affect your entire body, but most often the legs and feet are the body’s most prone areas to serious health problems.  Damage to the nerves can cause the loss of feeling in your feet, making it difficult to detect extreme temperatures and pain as easily or readily as someone who does not have diabetes. This is why diabetics get infections so frequently from something as simple as a small cut or blister on the foot.

There are many causes of foot pain, but if you are experiencing a sharp, stabbing pain that feels better when you stop walking and massage your foot, you may have what is known as Morton’s neuroma.  While it may be a scary sounding name, this condition is benign and highly treatable.   Neuromas are often described as nerve tumors, involving swelling within the nerve that may result in permanent nerve damage. Foot neuromas appear to occur in response to irritation, pressure or injury to one of the nerves that lead to your toes.

Understanding Neuromas

A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that may develop in various parts of the body.  The most common neuroma in the foot is a Morton’s neuroma, which occurs between the third and fourth toes and is also known as intermetatarsal neuroma.  An intermetatarsal neuroma may occur between any toes of the foot. The thickening of the nerve that defines a neuroma is the result of compression and irritation of the nerve.  The compression creates an enlargement of the nerve, which may lead to permanent nerve damage. 

 Neuromas in Warren, St. Claire Shores, and Macomb MI

Symptoms of a neuroma of the foot may include:

·         Pain in the forefoot and between the toes

·         Tingling and numbness of the ball of the foot

·         Swelling between the toes

·         Pain in the ball of the foot when weight is placed on it

Anything that may cause irritation or compression of your foot nerve may lead to the development of a neuroma.  One of the most common causes is wearing shoes that have a tapered toe box, or high-heeled shoes that cause the toes to be forced into the toe box.  The constant force of your toes in the shoes can cause pain and lead to a painful neuroma. 

People who have certain foot deformities – bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, or more flexible feet – are at a higher risk for developing a neuroma.  Other potential causes include activities that involve repeated irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running or sprinting.  An injury to the area may also lead to a neuroma. 

 How are Neuromas Treated?

 Neuromas can be treated non-surgically and with surgery. Non-surgical treatment includes:

·         Wearing shoes with a roomy toe box

·         Treat biomechanical conditions, such as bunions

·         Rest your foot and apply ice after activity

·         Take anti-inflammatory medications

·         Wear a foam pad under the toes or between the toes

·         Obtain an injection of xylocaine and cortisone in the affected area

·         Wear orthotics

If conservative treatments do not relieve your pain, your podiatrist might recommend surgery.


For more information on neuroma treatment visit one of our three podiatrist Offices in Macomb, St. Claire Shores, and Warren, MI.  Your podiatrist can diagnose and treat your neuroma properly.