A neuroma is an enlargement in one of the nerves that travel between the metatarsal bones in your foot. If the affected nerve travels between your third and fourth toes, it’s classified as a Morton’s neuroma. And, with this painful condition, you can experience symptoms such as numbness in the toes and ball of your foot, as well as burning or stabbing ball of foot pain.
What Causes a Neuroma to Form?
The enlargement and swelling of a neuroma develops as a result of pressure from the foot bones. Along with swelling, that pressure leads to inflammation in your nerve, resulting in the pain that’s so common for patients with neuromas.
But why would your foot bones press on your nerves? The problem could come from the biomechanics of your foot. But the shoes you wear could also contribute to pressure, especially if you choose pairs with pointy-toes, narrow silhouettes, or high heels. All of these shoe choices could compress your toes or put additional pressure on the ball of your foot. In turn, they could cause a neuroma to form, or worsen existing inflammation and swelling.
Foot Neuroma Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of a neuroma include:
• Pain when wearing narrow shoes or shoes with high-heels
• Ball of foot pain that’s sharp or stabbing
• Dull pain in the ball of the foot
• Numbness in the ball of your foot or in your toes
Now, it’s important to recognize that neuromas are progressive. So, if you delay treatment, your problem won’t go away: the pain will just get worse. As such, we encourage you to come into the office at the first sign of a problem.
Getting a Neuroma Diagnosis in Medford, OR
When you come in to our Medford podiatry practice, our trained doctors can diagnose a neuroma with a clinical examination and a medical history. Additionally, we may order x-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds, in order to rule out additional injuries or fractures.
Neuroma Treatment: Finding Relief without Surgery
Many patients with neuromas find relief with conservative treatment methods, especially when they seek early interventions. Here are some of the best non-surgical neuroma treatments, each designed to relieve ball of foot pain, numbness and more.
Switch Your Kicks
Here’s a treatment that costs you nothing: change your foot gear. The key is to choose wider pairs of shoes , since they will put less pressure on your foot bones, thereby minimizing reducing pressure on the nerve. Worn out shoes and stilettos must be put aside, and you’ll have to avoid pointy-toed shoes as well, since they compress your toes and your nerve. If you give your toes relief from the external pressure of your foot gear, you’ll give your nerve a chance to heal, reducing your inflammation and pain levels.
Neuroma Treatment Option: Choose Custom Orthotics
Not every patient will find neuroma relief by simply changing shoes. When your biomechanics are the source of pressure for your nerve, relief will have to come from the additional support of custom orthotics. Because these are medical grade shoe inserts, crafted for your exact needs, they redistribute foot pressure to relieve your nerve. We can even provide additional support by adding metatarsal pads to orthotics.
Reducing Neuroma Inflammation with Medication
Since neuroma pain is caused by nerve inflammation, we can speed up healing—and pain relief—by prescribing oral anti-inflammatory medications during your recovery period. Many patients can also find relief from over-the-counter medications such as Aleve or Advil.
New Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma: Cortisone Injections and MLS Laser Therapy
For faster relief of nerve inflammation, you may prefer receiving a cortisone injection instead of taking oral medications. With an injection, our podiatrists can directly your inflamed nerve, delivering localized relief. As a result, many patients will find a permanent solution to neuroma pain after just one cortisone injection. On the other hand, patients who choose to take oral anti-inflammatory medications experience slower relief, since the active ingredients must travel through your body before arriving at the source of the problem.
Of course, cortisone injections won’t last forever—the active ingredients wear away after approximately two weeks. However, during that time, your nerve will likely heal from swelling and inflammation. As a result, by the time that cortisone injection wears off, you should be feeling back to normal and ready to resume normal activities.
Another way to speed up healing and dramatically reduce your pain (all without an injection) is to try our MLS laser therapy. This neuroma treatment stimulates your body's natural healing ability, quickly reducing pain and inflammation and promoting the growth of healthy new cell tissue. In this way, it is offers both a non-invasive and regenrative treatment option that gives many patients lasting relief from neuroma pain, along with other ailments.
Keep in mind, though, that pain could return if you go back to bad shoe habits or stop wearing your orthotics. Also, while less common, some patients neuroma pain could persist after conservative treatments. So, in those cases, surgery is likely the best pathway to relief.
Surgical Neuroma Treatment in Medford OR
While most patients conservative neuroma treatments are effective, some continue to experience persistent pain in the ball of the foot, even with orthotics and injections. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to schedule a surgical consultation. With surgical neuroma treatment, Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Devin Dimond will detect the inflamed, swollen portion of your nerve. Next, that nerve section is removed and, once the procedure is complete, your neuroma pain will be a distant memory.
Still, there are some surgical side effects to consider. Since this procedure involves removing a portion of your nerve, you may experience mild numbness afterward. However, most of our patients are relieved to get rid of the severe neuroma pain, and can tolerate mild sensation loss.
Following surgery, we’ll put you in a surgical boot for up to three weeks, allowing you to bear weight on your foot without keeping your incision site from healing. Following that recovery period, and a final sign off from one of our podiatrists, you should be back to normal!
Who Should Provide Neuroma Treatment?
When you’ve got a heart problem, you go to a cardiologist. So when you have a foot problem like a neuroma, you need to see the foot experts—our podiatrists in Medford, OR, also serving patients in northern California and along the California and Oregon coast lines. Ready to relieve neuroma pain? Contact our office today for an immediate appointment!