Have you ever felt like you had a small stone stuck inside your shoe, every step causing you pain and aggravation?
Hopefully, there actually was a stone in your shoe, because that’s a simple fix. If you have that kind of feeling in the ball of your foot and don’t see any external cause, however, it is a sign of a possible neuroma.
What Is a Neuroma?
The nerves in the forefoot have a particularly tough job, being on the forefront.
Sometimes, a nerve can become irritated or injured. In response, nerve tissue can grow around the affected area, likely in an attempt to protect the vulnerable nerve.
While not malignant, this growth can still cause plenty of trouble. The nerve itself can become pressured or pinched, causing symptoms such as:
- Burning pain felt in the forefoot, or between the toes—especially when bearing weight
- Tingling or numbness
- Swelling between the toes
What Causes a Neuroma?
A neuroma tends to be caused by three general factors: irritation, injury, or pressure.
If you are a runner or athlete, you’re putting your feet in an environment that adds to your risk of a neuroma (not that that should stop you from doing so!).
Shoe choices can also contribute to the development of a neuroma. Wearing high heels that place extra pressure on the front of your foot are a likely culprit, but any poorly fitting shoes that put pressure on your toes (have a small toe box) can also contribute.
Then there are some causes of neuromas that are less preventable. An abnormal foot shape or deformity, such as high arches, flat feet, hammertoes, or bunions can cause an imbalance in the way weight is distributed through the foot, forcing more pressure up front and increasing neuroma risks.
And then there’s just the nerve reacting to a direct injury, such as a high impact or having something dropped on your foot. It’s certainly not fun to begin with, and the neuroma can carry your discomfort onward.
What Can I Do About a Neuroma?
In minor cases, a neuroma may shrink on its own if the source of its irritation is removed. This can be as simple as switching to shoes with wider toe boxes and more cushioning support. Over-the-counter toe pads or arch supports may do the trick.
Anti-inflammatory medications and icing the area can also help with discomfort during this time.
If your pain persists for more than a few days, however, it’s time to schedule an appointment with us. More advanced neuromas may require different forms of treatment.
In some cases, an injection may be recommended for the site. Steroids or alcohol may be used to reduce the size of the growth, depending on the patient.
If the cause of the neuroma is structural in nature, a custom orthotic insert may be able to provide advanced cushioning and alignment, taking excess pressure of the site and allowing it to heal.
If these treatments aren’t effective, a surgical option may be considered. Pressure around the nerve may be relieved, or the inflamed nerve removed entirely. Surgery, however, is usually only considered as a last resort, as removing the nerve may result in long-term or permanent numbness in that area.
Help for Ball of Foot Pain
Whatever course of action is pursued in treatment of your pain, don’t just try to endure it! The sooner action can be taken in conditions such as these, the quicker and more effective treatment tends to be.
Have You Experienced Physical Truama That May Be Leading To Foot Pain? Contact Our El Paso Foot Doctor Today.
If you've expereinced physical trauma that is causing you foot or ankle pain you should speak with an experienced podiatrist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appoinment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.