A neuroma is an abnormal swelling or tumor of nerve tissue that can occur in the foot. Theses tumors form when the bones in the foot called metatarsals are pushed together and create a compression injury to the nerve or nerves. The more compression to the nerve has, the larger the tumor may become.
Symptoms of this condition often start slow giving a feeling of a stone bruise in the ball of the foot. As the condition progresses the symptoms frequently increase with complaints of:
- Burning/stinging sharp pain in the ball of the foot especially when walking in narrow shoes or boots. Bare foot walking on hard floors will also elicit this symptom.
- A feeling that you have a wrinkle in your stocking or that there is a stone or “lump” in your shoe.
- Tingling or mild numbness in the pad of the foot or between the toes.
Many times simple conservative treatment is successful in dealing with the discomfort of these conditions. Easy treatment such as changing to a more roomy shoe, using over the counter shoe inserts, or custom made arch supports (orthotics), or simply adding padding to the shoe may help. Other conservative treatments include oral anti-inflammatory medications or gentle foot message/physical therapy have been found be help.
For those neuromas that persist and require medical attention, the physician may use such techniques as cortisone injections which are intended to simply “shrink” the nerve back to its original size. Injections of a specialized alcohol called sclerosing injections may be used to stop the painful nerve. Although none of us like shots, these have very little pain involved with them. Prior to the shot, the area is numbed-up with a cold spray which makes the procedure very tolerable.
Surgery is sometimes required to eliminate the most persistent neuromas. This is an “in and out “ procedure allowing the patient to return home the same day. These are frequently performed in a surgical center setting, and take roughly 30 minutes to perform. The person can usually return to normal activities within 3-6 weeks afterwards.