You’re walking down the street, up the stairs, or maybe from the living room to the kitchen, when suddenly, you feel an intense pain in your toes. You may have a neuroma. A neuroma occurs when a nerve in your foot become inflamed.
Picture the inside of your toe as a neighborhood. Nerves live there. Living right next door are the tissues of the toes. Sometimes, the tissues will get too close to their neighbor’s property. When that happens, tissues rub against nerves, causing the nerves to form abnormal growths. These growths, or tumors, are benign (not cancerous tumors) – but they do cause the nerve to become painfully inflamed. When you walk, the rubbing increases, and the pain feels worse.
While we treat a lot of neuromas at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists, the one we see the most here in the river region is known as Morton’s neuroma. In Morton’s neuroma, the nerve is wrapped in a thick sheet of tissue. Morton’s neuroma often targets the nerve between the third and fourth toes. It can also form underneath those toes, so you might feel like there’s a small ball under your foot.
Symptoms of Neuroma
If a neuroma has developed in your foot, you may feel
- As though your sock or something else is bunched up
- Like you’d like to reach in and pull something out
- Burning, numbness, or tingling
- Intense pain that worsens when you walk
Causes of Neuroma
Anything that compresses or irritates a nerve can cause a neuroma. Here are some common causes:
- An anatomical problem: there’s something askew with the bones of the foot that causes nerve inflammation, such as flatfeet, bunions, and hammertoes.
- Trauma: a stubbed toe or a sports accident could cause injury and inflammation.
- Ill-fitting shoes: shoes with pointed toes can pinch nerves. Women are especially prone to neuromas when they wear high heels that force their toes into a small space.
Treatment of Neuromas
It’s important to get prompt treatment for a neuroma. If left untreated, the pressure on your nerve could eventually cause permanent damage to the nerve.
When symptoms first appear, massaging the affected area may ease the pain. For more developed neuromas, treatments can include stopping certain activities that aggravate the nerve, changing the type of shoes you wear, or modifying the shoes you have with pads or custom orthotics.
Pain in your toes or at the bottom of the front of your foot – especially pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time – is always a reason to make an appointment with us. We are happy to set you up with Michael L. Rosenberg, D.P.M or Heidi M. Christie, D.P.M. at our Montgomery office. We can tell you if a neuroma has unpacked and moved in, or whether a different sort of neighbor has come calling.