Nerves keep us safe by recognizing danger and triggering appropriate responses to critical situations. When damaged nerves misfire and send faulty signals to the central nervous system, though, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. Often, faulty signals and sensations are an indication that neuromas are the issue. Knowing more about this condition will help you make sure you get the professional care you need here at Eagle-Summit Foot and Ankle.
Building up Nerve Damage
Basically, a neuroma is a benign (noncancerous) thickening of nerve tissues. When a nerve is under heavy pressure, aggravated, or pinched, it will respond by swelling. This results in a tiny yet painful mass that disrupts healthy nerve function. This condition could happen to any nerve in the foot, but tends to be most commonly found between the metatarsal heads of the third and fourth toes. This is known as a Morton’s neuroma.
The neuroma develops as a response to the excessive pressure on the ball of foot and toes in the area, although anything that causes the soft tissues and bones around a nerve to press on it is usually enough to lead to the painful situation.
The potential causes of excessive pressure on the forefoot that leads to a neuroma include certain types of shoes, particularly those that have pointed toe boxes, narrow sides, and high heels. Biomechanical issues that stem from structural abnormalities like bunions, hammertoes, and flat feet also can increase the risk of an issue developing. Further risk factors include sports and physical activities that feature repeated pounding on hard ground.
Why Neuromas Hurt
There is a plethora of uncomfortable side effects that can come with damaged nerves. This can be attributed to the fact that the affected nerve will have a hard time both sending and receiving accurate signals. In many cases, impaired nerves will misfire, which results in painful sensations. It can also cause tingling or burning sensations in the area. We have many patients who will report feeling like there is a pebble or other hard item under the ball of their foot, when nothing is actually there. For some patients, there are times of numbness in the area as well.
Neuroma pain is often worse when weight is placed on the affected area, which makes even normal activities like walking around the house uncomfortable. Nerve issues are progressive and may start out mild, but will become worse in time when not treated. After a certain point, the damage to the nerve will become permanent.
Reduce the Pressure, Reduce the Pain
When you experience painful or abnormal sensations in the ball of foot area, make an appointment with one of our Colorado offices so we can assess the condition. It is important to have the neuroma properly diagnosed so it can be effectively treated.
The good news is that there are treatment options for neuroma pain. Proper care will alleviate pressure on the pinched nerve tissue, which then allows the swelling to subside and the nerve to recover. To better facilitate relief from pressure on the ball of foot, it might be necessary to hold off from activities that feature repetitive, high-impact motions (running, jumping). Instead, choose low-impact exercises—like yoga, cycling, or swimming—that are easier on the forefoot.
We might prescribe custom orthotic devices (especially if the issue was created by a biomechanical abnormality) or provide special padding for your footwear. The padding adds an extra layer of cushioning and protection to relieve physical stress on the affected nerve. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medication or direct injections are used to relieve stubborn discomfort.
When conservative measures have been exhausted without providing the desired result, then surgery may become the best treatment option.
Avon & Frisco, CO Podiatry Services
Neuromas can be rather painful and even make wearing shoes difficult. Participating in favorite activities might no longer be an option. Even worse, though, the nerve damage can become permanent when left untreated.
Instead of living with a painful condition and risking permanent damage, contact Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle and receive the effective care you need. Call our Avon, CO office at (970) 949-0500 or our Frisco office at (970) 668-4565 for more information or schedule your appointment online today.