Neuromas: Bulging Nerves
Nerves carry a major responsibility in your body – they give you the ability to feel and react to the world around you. They let you sense the ground underneath you and warn you when that ground changes. Your nervous system tells you to pull your hand away from something hot and inspires you to stroke something soft. Nerves enable you to experience the world. However, nerves themselves can suffer painful damage. One of the most common nerve issues in the feet is something called a neuroma.
Building up Nerve Damage
A neuroma is actually a benign thickening of nerve tissue. The nerve swells when it’s pinched or otherwise under heavy, aggravating pressure. This creates a small, painful mass that can actually impair healthy nerve function. This problem can develop on any nerve in your feet, but the most common one in the lower limbs is called Morton’s neuroma.
Morton’s neuroma is a thickened, painful nerve in between the metatarsal heads of two toes. Usually it sits between your third and fourth digits. Excessive pressure on the ball of your foot and on your toes is the culprit behind the damage. Anything that causes the bones and the soft tissues around them to compress a nerve can be enough to create pain.
Shoes with elevated heels, narrow sides, and pointed toe boxes all put excessive pressure on your forefoot. Biomechanical issues that direct excess pressure to the small toes, like bunions, hammertoes, and even flat feet, increase your risk for the condition. Activities that involve a lot of hard landings and pounding the ground may contribute to the issue as well.
Why Neuromas Hurt
Nerve damage causes a variety of uncomfortable side effects. A neuroma will impair nervous tissue, so it doesn’t receive or send signals accurately. In fact, it often misfires, causing pain. You may develop a tingling or burning sensation. Many people say they feel like they’re standing on something underneath the ball of their foot. Patches of numbness are common as well.
The pain is usually strongest when you put weight on the affected foot, which can make normal activities uncomfortable for you. This is a progressive condition, so it may start mild, but it does become worse without treatment. Eventually the changes to your nerve could become permanent.
Reduce the Pressure, Reduce the Pain
You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of neuroma pain, however. The right treatment can alleviate the pressure on the pinched tissue and allow it to shrink down and recover. Foot specialist Sanjay Gandhi, DPM, will examine your lower limbs to diagnose your condition and determine how serious it is. From there, our team at A Step Up Podiatry, LLC, will help you address the nerve damage.
The most important step is to reduce the pressure on the ball of your foot. Take a break from activities that involve a lot of hard, repetitive pounding. Choose low-impact exercises that won’t injure your forefoot instead. Padding in your shoes can add an extra layer of cushioning and protection that may reduce stress on your nerve. Orthotics can be more effective if you have a biomechanical issue that’s contributing to the problem.
We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications or even direct injections for stubborn discomfort as well. If your foot doesn’t respond to any conservative measures, surgery might be an option for you.
Neuromas are very painful and can make wearing shoes and participating in activities difficult for you. Worse, the longer nerve damage goes untreated, the greater the chance that it will cause permanent side effects. Let Sanjay Gandhi, DPM, and our experienced team at A Step Up Podiatry in Manalapan Township, NJ help you alleviate your discomfort and eliminate the problem. Just call (732) 446-7136 to make an appointment with us.