What Experienced Annapolis Podiatrists Want You to Know About Neuromas

Neuromas are small, non-cancerous growths that affect one or more nerves in the balls of the feet. They cause a thickening of the nerve tissue, resulting in pain. Anyone can develop neuromas, especially Morton’s neuromas, which usually develop on the ball of the foot between the third and fourth toes due to irritation, pressure, or injury. A knowledgeable podiatrist, like the professionals at Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center, can offer a holistic approach to neuroma care, ensuring you receive the correct diagnosis and individualized treatment. This may help you to avoid the need for surgery and long-lasting health consequences. 

But what are the top signs of foot neuromas, how can you care for them at home, and when should you schedule a podiatry appointment? These are our recommendations. 

Risk Factors for Neuromas

There are certain circumstances that are likely causes of neuromas. Take a moment to review the following to see what might apply to your condition so you and your doctor can get to the root of the problem. 

Footwear

Women experience neuromas frequently, and shoes are usually the reason why. High heels, shoes that squeeze your toes together, or footwear that increases pressure on the ball of your foot increases neuroma risk.  

High-Impact Sports

If you jog, play basketball or tennis, or engage in activities that require tight-fitting footwear like skiing or rock climbing, you might suffer from a lot of pressure and foot trauma. This heightens your chances of developing a neuroma.

Continuous Standing

Jobs that are more physical or require you to be on your feet all day also increase pressure on the balls of your feet. Extensive nerve and tissue damage can occur without cushioning soles or custom orthotics.

Foot Deformities

If you have bunions, hammer toes, high arches, or flat feet, your risk for neuromas is higher than for people without these conditions.

9 Signs of a Foot Neuroma

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “experts estimate that around 1 in 3 people has a Morton’s neuroma at some point in their life.” This means this condition is an exceptionally common problem that we often treat at our offices in Annapolis, Stevensville, and Glen Burnie. Woman touching foot with pain indicated neuroma

Here are some typical symptoms of a neuroma: 

  1. Feeling like there’s a pebble in your shoe or that your sock has bunched up
  2. Stinging, stabbing pain
  3. Numbness or tingling in the toes or ball of the foot
  4. Toe cramping
  5. Radiating, burning pain in the toes or the ball of the foot
  6. Increasing pain or swelling over time
  7. Pain while walking, especially in high heels or shoes with narrow toe boxes
  8. Sharp pain when standing on tip-toe
  9. The need to change types of activities to avoid pain

When people hear that neuromas aren’t cancerous, they are even more likely to forgo treatment. You may be inclined to ignore your symptoms and hope the problem just resolves itself. This isn’t a good idea. An untreated neuroma can cause permanent nerve damage and chronic pain. There’s also the possibility that what you think is a neuroma is an entirely different condition, such as a serious wound, which can worsen over time.

How Our Annapolis Podiatrists Diagnose and Treat Neuromas 

At Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center, we diagnose neuromas by learning about our patients’ health histories and current symptoms, completing physical examinations, and utilizing medical diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, and bone scans. 

Not only will your doctor look for signs of a neuroma, but also attempt to rule out other conditions such as stress fractures and arthritis, which can sometimes present in similar ways. We then develop individualized treatment plans with our patients, to ensure the plan will meet their unique needs. Here are some self and professional treatment remedies we often recommend. 

Changing Footwear 

As the first line of defense, many people experience relief from their symptoms right away by improving their footwear. Try:

  • Flats or shoes with heels less than 2 inches high
  • Open-toed shoes
  • Footwear with wide toe boxes
  • Soles with better shock protection
  • Custom orthotics or padded insoles

In some cases, stretching existing footwear to widen the toe box may also alleviate symptoms to a certain degree.

Rest

Take weight off your feet, massage the sore areas, and apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.

Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen can help to lessen swelling and pain.

Weight Management

Carrying extra weight can make neuromas worse, so maintaining a healthy body weight could help reduce discomfort.

Adjusting Activity Levels

It may be necessary to choose more low-impact exercises, especially while the foot heals. As long as your pain isn’t too intense, we might also recommend doing certain stretches that strengthen the foot and arch.

Padding and Taping

There are different padding and taping techniques that can adjust the biomechanics of the feet enough to ease pressure and reduce pain.

Injections

Some people respond well to periodic corticosteroid injections for neuromas. This fast-acting anti-inflammatory drug may provide pain relief for weeks. 

Surgery

In our Annapolis podiatry practice, we believe it’s only necessary to consider surgery for most conditions if other, less invasive options don’t demonstrate lasting results. We offer various options for neuroma surgery, including nerve decompression, nerve removal, and radiofrequency ablation. Foot neuroma surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, and patients can expect to return to normal activities within a few weeks. Discuss the risks and benefits of foot neuroma surgery with one of our skilled surgeons to determine if it’s the right treatment option for you.

Eric Harmelin, DPM
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Experienced Amputation Prevention Specialist and Podiatrist in Annapolis, Stevensville, and Glen Burnie, MD.
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