Neuromas: A Quick Guide For All You Need

Dec 15, 2022

Do you have a hard lump on the ball of your foot? Does it feel like there is constantly a pebble stuck under the skin? Does the discomfort get worse when you wear tight-fitted shoes or try to walk? Then you might have a neuroma. 

Neuromas are relatively common. According to recent data, 1 in 3 people develops Morton’s Neuromas. Female patients are roughly 8 to 10 times more likely to experience this condition compared to male patients. 

The great news is that we offer products in our online store that will help with neuroma pain! Check them out here: 

Custom orthotics also help tremendously with neuroma pain. Some more great news is that those with Medicaid/Soonercare, custom orthotics are covered for everyone under 19 years old! Custom orthotics are great for many foot and ankle issues, including neuromas, flat feet, and more! 

So you do not need to live with neuroma pain anymore! If you want to learn more about this type of foot pain, then you are in the right place. Our team at the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma has compiled a guide that can answer all your queries.

Pain in the ball of the foot due to having neuromas

What is a Neuroma?

When you injure a nerve – for instance, from doing strenuous activity or getting a surgical procedure – it needs time to heal. But, at times, the natural healing process doesn’t go according to plan. Instead of regrowing in a long tube, the nerve grows back in a marble-like shape. This disorganized growth is a neuroma.

A neuroma also called a “pinched nerve,” is a non-cancerous tumor of nerve tissue. Neuromas occur when there is a pinched nerve between the bones and ligaments. The nerve swelling tends to form at the base of the three middle toes.

Different types of neuromas exist. Such as Morton’s neuromas, acoustic neuromas, ganglioneuromas, traumatic neuromas, and neurinoma. Morton’s neuromas are some of the most common ones, affecting the ball of the foot, typically between the fourth and third toes.

It must be said too that pain in the ball of the foot can be caused by something other than neuromas. Other problems like too much pressure on the ball of the foot, or your feet rolling inwards (pronation) can cause pain in the same place as a neuroma. However, the products listed before in the introduction to this blog can also help ease the pain of those conditions as well.

Causes of Neuromas

The causes vary from person to person. Neuromas can occur after the nerve has been damaged, stretched, or mashed. But, they could also be the result of biomechanical deformities, such as a flat foot or a high-arched foot. 

Morton’s neuroma is caused by a repetitive irritation or secondary pressure that leads to the thickness of the nerve. When you apply too much pressure to the nerve or you injure it, you can experience forefoot nerve pain. 

Here are some of the causes of Morton’s neuromas:

  • Wearing high-heeled shoes
  • Using overly tight shoes
  • Doing high-impact exercises 

Conditions with a Higher Risk of Developing Neuromas

The natural shape of the feet can increase the likelihood of neuromas. Having foot deformities can cause instability in the surrounding area of the toe joints. This can make you prone to developing neuromas. The conditions can include the following:

Another important risk factor is repeated stress. If you have any of these conditions and you spend long hours on your feet, then the repeated trauma could cause a neuroma. 

Sports with a High-Risk Factor for Neuromas

High-impact sports can take a toll on your feet and cause foot pain. These workouts require excessive forefoot stress. They can put pressure on the ball of the foot and toes. The constant irritation and compression increase the odds of pain. 

When you pair that with tight footwear, it is easy to experience irritation, foot pain, and discomfort. Some of the sports that can lead to neuromas are:

  • Jogging
  • Tennis
  • Rock Climbing
  • Snow skiing/snowboarding
  • Racquetball 
  • HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training)
  • Running

Symptoms of Neuromas

Many people want to know what neuroma pain feels like and if it hurts all the time. The foot pain feels like sharp, burning, or stinging sensations between the toes. A well-defined lump is easily noticeable and can be felt whenever you walk or stand. 

The nerve pain is not always constant. It can be intermittent and subside as soon as it comes. Other symptoms include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the feet
  • Swelling between the toes
  • Pain feels worse when standing on the balls of the feet or wearing high heels
  • Feeling a pebble or bunched-up sock beneath the ball of the foot

According to a study, the classic signs of Morton’s neuroma are prickling or burning sensations within the affected nerve. It often comes with forefoot pain. About 17% of patients evaluated describe some form of trauma to the foot causing symptoms. 

Over 50% of patients stated having altered sensations. Such as a pebble-like sensation in the shoe. The symptoms often got worse when they walked and wore heeled or tight shoes. Night foot pain and rest pain was recorded in roughly 25% of patients.

Doctor evaluating foot for neuromas

Treatment Options for Neuromas

The treatment will vary based on how severe the symptoms are. Most of the time, we suggest a conservative approach. For example, changing the footwear. Your feet need the right amount of support and cushioning. Our team at the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma can suggest some types of shoes better suited for your feet or shoes with more room in the toe box. 

Depending on the type of problem you have, we can recommend suitable shoe pads that can accommodate your needs. The best insoles for Morton’s neuroma are those that fit perfectly within your shoe. They have the right medial arch support and a properly-fitted metatarsal pad.

As mentioned before, we offer the most suitable shoe pads with the best efficiency to curb foot pain in our online store! Here are the products again: 

And again, custom orthotics are also a great option as they offer support and cushioning as they redistribute the pressure of the feet from your daily activities. They are a useful product for people with foot abnormalities and regular discomfort. To curb the inflammation, we suggest you do some at-home treatments. 

You can also apply ice packs to the affected area for 15 to 20 min, 2 to 3 times a day, which should curb the inflammation. Also, you should wrap the ball of your foot, and make sure to allow your foot to rest to heal. 

Symptoms are Not Improving, What Now?

If symptoms do not improve, contact our office, as surgery may be necessary. When the pain is severe, accompanied by feelings of a pin and needle-like sensations, then we might recommend a surgical procedure. 

But, we don’t suggest surgery for Morton’s neuroma treatment unless it is a last resort. Surgically removing the neuroma means that it might take a couple of days to walk on the foot because of the post-surgical pain. 

If you suspect that you might have a neuroma, it would be best to have it evaluated by our podiatrist, Dr. Elenburg. He can suggest the best treatment and get you started on the path to be rid of your foot pain! Contact our office today to book your appointment so that we can help you find the treatment you need.

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