A neuroma is a condition that results in irritation to one of the common digital nerves that supplies the plantar (bottom) surface of the foot and toes. Over a period of time, degeneration of the nerve occurs, resulting in a scar-like tissue formation around the affected nerve.
Many times referred to as a “Morton's Neuroma,” the condition is not a tumor, but a benign enlargement of the nerve. Symptoms are usually cramping and numbness or burning in the ball of your foot and the affected toes. Usually, the third and fourth toes are affected, and the discomfort is many times temporarily relieved by removing shoes and massaging the foot.
Pain occurring when at rest usually indicates a more severe condition. Neuromas are caused by many conditions, but are usually related to a situation that causes constriction or irritation of the nerve. Tight shoes or high heels, arthritis, hard or irregular work surfaces, recreational activity, and trauma are only some of the factors that can lead to development of a neuroma.
Diagnosis of the condition is based on the patient’s symptoms and description of the pain. Many times a movable mass can be felt in the space behind and between the toes, and if compressed will cause pain.
Treatment is designed to try to eliminate the pain, either conservatively or with a surgical procedure. Modifying shoes, wearing in-shoe orthotics or pads to take pressure away from the area, physical therapy, and cortisone injections are some of the conservative methods of treatment. If conservative therapy fails, an excision of the nerve (neurectomy) can be performed.
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