Foot Facts -- Neuromas
Does the bottom of your foot tingle, burn or feel numb?
If you have one or more of these symptoms you might be suffering from Morton's Neuroma:
- Tingling, burning, or numbness
- A feeling that something is inside the ball of your foot
- A feeling that your sock is bunched up
So, what is a neuroma?
A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissues and may occur in almost any part of the body. This thickening, or enlargement, is the result of compression and irritation of the nerve. This compression creates enlargement of the nerve, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage.
Morton's Neuroma is the most common foot neuroma. Morton's Neuroma develops between the third and fourth toes. In this area of the foot part of the lateral plantar nerve combines with part of the medial plantar nerve. Where these two nerves merge they are usually larger in diameter than those going to the other toes. Also contributing to potential problems, the nerve lies close to the surface of the skin and to an artery and vein.
As a result, even a small amount of squeezing or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of a neuroma. Pointy-toed shoes or high-heeled shoes are typically the cause of irritation.
People with bunions, hammer toes, or flat feet are more likely to develop a neuroma.
Once the pain starts, what should I expect?
- At first you may only feel the discomfort when wearing certain pointy-toed shoes or doing some activity that aggravates the affected area.
- The symptoms might go away when you remove the shoe or massage the foot.
- Over time the symptoms worsen and may continue for several days or weeks.
- The symptoms will become more intense as the neuroma enlarges and the temporary changes in the nerve become permanent.
What can I do to lessen or eliminate the pain?
- The first thing to do is to stop wearing the pointy-toed and high-heeled shoes.
- Reduce or stop any activities that place repetitive pressure on the nerve.
- Begin wearing supportive footwear with a wide toe box like Birkenstock or Finn Comfort, or use high-quality shoe inserts such as the Birkenstock or Birki insoles.
- Place an icepack on the affected area to help reduce swelling.