Nerves not only allow us to experience all the wonderful sensations the world has to offer, but also keep us safe by recognizing danger and triggering responses to critical situations. When damaged nerves in the front of the foot misfire and send faulty signals, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. Often neuromas are the issue. Understanding this condition will enable you to know when it is time to seek professional care from Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma.
Building up Nerve Damage
In simplest terms, a neuroma is a benign thickening that happens to nerve tissue. When an affected nerve is under aggravating, heavy pressure or is pinched, it responds by swelling. In turn, this creates a tiny, painful mass that actually interrupts healthy nerve function. The condition can happen to any nerve in your feet, but we are most likely to treat patients who develop what is known as Morton’s neuroma.
With this condition a painful, thickened nerve is found between the metatarsal heads of the third and fourth toes. Excessive pressure on your toes and the ball of your foot tends to be the main culprit behind the damage, although anything that causes bones and soft tissues around a nerve to compress it will be enough to create a painful situation.
Certain types of footwear—especially shoes with narrow sides, pointed toe boxes, and high heels—can place excessive pressure on the forefoot and lead to this condition. The risk can also be increased by biomechanical issues stemming from flat feet, hammertoes, and bunions. Physical activities and sports that feature repetitive pounding on hard ground can also increase the risk.
Why Neuromas Hurt
Damaged nerves can lead to a slew of uncomfortable side effects. They may have difficulty receiving and sending signals accurately. In fact, an impaired nerve will often misfire, which causes pain. In some cases, a burning or tingling sensation develops. Many patients report feeling as though there is a rock or something hard under the ball of the foot, when there isn’t actually anything present. Patches of numbness can also be rather common.
The pain is typically strongest when weight is placed on the affected foot. This can make even normal activities uncomfortable. The condition is progressive, so it might start mildly, but will become worse if left untreated. After enough time has lapsed, the damage to the nerve can become permanent.
Reduce the Pressure, Reduce the Pain
When you are experience the painful or strange sensations in the ball of the foot area, be sure to make an appointment with one of our offices so we can evaluate the condition. It is important to have the nerve damage properly assessed before it can be effectively treated.
The good news is that there are ways of caring for neuroma pain. Proper treatment will alleviate pressure on pinched nerve tissue, which then allows the swelling to subside and the nerve to recover. In order to facilitate the relief from pressure on the ball of the foot, it will likely be necessary for you to refrain from activities that feature repetitive, hard-pounding motions, like running or jumping. Instead, opt for low-impact exercises—like cycling, yoga, or swimming—that will not further injure the forefoot.
We may prescribe orthotic devices (particularly if the problem is created by a biomechanical abnormality) or provide padding for your shoes. The padding adds an extra layer of protection and cushioning to relieve stress on the affected nerve. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medications or direct injections are able to relieve stubborn discomfort.
When conservative measures have been exhausted without providing the results we would hope to see, then surgery might be the best treatment option.
Oklahoma City Foot and Ankle Care
Neuromas can be quite painful and make wearing shoes difficult. Many times, participating in your favorite activities becomes no longer an option.
Instead of living with the painful condition, chancing permanent nerve damage if it is left untreated, contact Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma and find the effective care you need. Call our Oklahoma City, OK office at (405) 418-2676 for more information or to schedule your appointment.
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