Phantom pain might not have an apparent cause, but it can be real and take away your quality of life. Of course, there is nothing phantom about the burning, tingling, or other painful sensations of neuromas—they happen in very real nerve tissue inside the body. Such is the case with an enlarged, compressed nerve in your foot.
When you develop nerve problems in a lower limb, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle can provide the effective care you need. Understanding this condition will help you know when it is time to reach out and schedule your appointment with us.
Your Nervous System
To better understand a neuroma, it is beneficial to start with a look at your nervous system, including its subdivisions into the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system is formed by the spinal column and brain, which are integral components of the human experience. In the central nervous system, electrical impulses are collected to receive physical sensations and sent out to provide directions for action. To receive and transmit data, the brain relies on a comprehensive network of nerves that form the peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system is where neuromas form. While some nerves are responsible for triggering action, these nerves are tasked with collecting sensory information and conveying it back to the brain. When everything is functioning normally, this system works quite well. The development of a neuroma (thickened nerve tissue), however, can become a problem.
Neuroma Signs and Symptoms
The more prevalent symptoms of a neuroma include burning or tingling sensations, pain, and even numbness. A feeling of something being inside a sock or shoe—when nothing is actually present—is another frequent complaint from patients having neuromas.
There is often a particular pattern of progression with regard to these symptoms. At first, symptoms have a gradual onset and only happen occasionally (like while performing certain physical activities or wearing narrow-toed footwear). Relief might be experienced by massaging the affected foot, avoiding activity, or removing a shoe that is causing problems.
In time, symptoms will increasingly worsen to the point where they persist for extended periods of time, even as long as a couple of weeks. Additionally, the pain or other sensations can intensify as a neuroma enlarges. Left untreated, the neuroma can become a permanent problem.
How a Neuroma Develops
Essentially, anything causing irritation or compression on a nerve can lead to swelling and thickening, but one of the most common causes is narrow and high-heeled shoes. Hammertoes, bunions, flatfeet, and other foot deformities can increase the risk. With regard to activities, anything involving repeated irritation on the ball of the foot or causing physical trauma can potentially result in the development of this extra growth of nerve tissue.
Treatment and Preventative Measures
There are both conservative and surgical treatment options for dealing with a neuroma. Nonsurgical care includes padding, icing, modifying your activity and/or shoes, medication, orthotic devices, and sometimes injection therapy. Our hope is to avoid surgery with the use of these kinds of treatment methods.
In some cases, surgery is recommended when nonsurgical approaches have not provided the desired results. In these instances, we will consider your condition and goals, and then determine an approach that will work best for you. Naturally, the recovery timeframe will depend on which surgical procedure we perform.
You can lessen your risk of dealing with this medical condition by wearing shoes with wider toe boxes and lower heels. This will help to reduce the amount of pressure placed on the front of the foot. Additionally, undergoing treatment for foot deformities, instead of leaving them untreated, will further lower the risk of a neuroma.
Foot and Ankle Nerve Care in Medford, OR
Nerve issues in the feet and ankles can be a source of concern, but our team at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle is prepared to help. We provide an array of services at our Medford, OR podiatrist office to help you find the relief you need from issues like neuromas. Contact us today for more information by calling (541) 776-3338, or take advantage of our online form and request an appointment with us right now.