Your nervous system plays an essential role in allowing you to basically do everything you do. Unfortunately, sometimes nerve issues arise, including neuromas. These can lead to painful symptoms, but there are often treatments we can use to help relieve pain and get you back to your favorite activities.
What Are Neuromas?
As we discuss this condition, perhaps the best place to start is with your nervous system. You might not already know this, but our nervous systems are actually divided into two subsystems – the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal column. When it comes to neuromas, we are more interested in the peripheral nervous system.
Your peripheral nervous system is an elaborate network of nerves running throughout your entire body. They are responsible for collecting sensory information and triggering muscular response (so we can move). These peripheral nerves communicate with the central nervous system, which allows us to experience all the sensations we do. Now, when everything is fine, you will barely give the entire process much thought. When a neuroma develops, though, it can take away from your quality of life.
So what exactly is a neuroma? Well, this is a peripheral nerve that has become inflamed due to pressure being placed on it from some outside source. These sources can include bone spurs, tumors, and other abnormal growths. In some cases, a nerve becomes pinched as a response to physical trauma or certain footwear (especially shoes with high heels, since they place extra pressure on the forefoot area). Repeated stress is another potential cause of neuroma as well.
The most common neuroma in the foot is a Morton’s neuroma. This particular condition affects the area between the third and fourth toes.
The most common symptoms of a neuroma are all sensory in nature. These include burning and tingling sensations, a burning pain, or even numbness. A rather frequent sign of this condition is the feeling as though you are standing on a pebble or another small object when none is actually present.
Neuroma Treatment and Prevention
If you have any abnormal sensory experience in your foot, it is quite important to come see Dr. Reister for a diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, a neuroma can become a permanent condition. Naturally, the exact treatment options we use for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but we will typically start by attempting conservative care to address the problem. This includes options like:
- Choosing different shoes – Switching from footwear with narrow toe areas and high heels will reduce the amount of pressure placed on the forefoot. This is generally a good starting point, but there may need to be further treatment measures.
- Shoe inserts – Whether we recommend certain over-the-counter pads or inserts, or we prescribe custom-made orthotics, the goal is to relieve pressure from the affected nerve.
- Rest and ice – If you are seeking temporary relief from symptoms, you may benefit from resting and icing the area.
- Medication – In some cases, we can manage the pain and reduce inflammation with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For other patients, we may prescribe corticosteroid injections.
- Surgery – We reserve this as an option for when conservative care is simply not enough. The two main surgical procedures for neuromas are decompression surgery (which relieves pressure on the nerve by addressing the issue causing it) and nerve removal.
To reduce your risk of developing a neuroma in the first place, make sure you always wear shoes that fit well and do not cause excessive pressure to be placed on the forefoot area. Avoid performing too many high-impact activities during the week. Instead, consider cross-training with low-impact activities like swimming or cycling mixed in with your normal workouts.
If you are experiencing any strange sensations in your feet or ankles, come see us here at Richardson Podiatry Associates. We will diagnose the condition and then create the treatment plan you need. We are also here to answer any questions you have and provide additional information, so give us a call at (972) 690-5374. Don’t forget, you can also request your appointment with our Richardson, TX foot doctor office online right now!