Neuroma

Neuroma

What is a Neuroma?

A neuroma is a ball of thickened nerve tissue that occurs in the digital nerves of the foot, often referred to as a benign nerve tumour. The most common neuroma occurs between the third and fourth toe and is known as Morton’s Neuroma. A neuroma is a painful condition and patients often experience shooting pain or numbness down to the affected toes.

Causes of Neuroma

The cause of neuroma is linked to several factors – biomechanical stress, trauma, and compression. These factors lead to irritation of the nerve tissues and result in swelling and inflammation of the nerve sheath.

Biomechanical stress – conditions leading to unstable foot joints during gait (e.g joint hypermobility or flat feet) causes the nerve to be “pinched”.

Trauma – single or repeated trauma to the digital nerve causes inflammation and swelling of the nerve.

Compression – tight-fitting shoes or high heels causes constant compression over the forefoot, resulting in the digital nerves being compressed and irritated over time.

Risk Factors of Neuroma

Risk factors of a neuroma include:

  • Flat feet (pes planus) or high arch feet (pes cavus)
  • High-impact sports
  • Tight-fitting footwear or high heels
  • History of forefoot injuries (e.g fractures)

Signs and Symptoms of Neuroma

Patients with neuroma will experience neurological pain symptoms, which are distinctive and easy to differentiate from other conditions.

Signs and symptoms of a neuroma include:

  • Sharp, stabbing or shooting pain at the ball of the foot
  • Burning sensation over the affected area
  • Pain shooting towards to affected toes
  • Numbness and tingling over the affected toes
  • Pain worsens with wearing enclosed or tight-fitting footwear

Neuroma Treatment

The treatment for neuroma involves reducing pain and inflammation of the nerve tissue and addressing the underlying factors leading to its development.

Treatment options for neuroma include:

In cases where the neuroma condition is more severe, the following options may be considered:

  • Steroid injection or alcohol ablation to reduce nerve swelling
  • Surgical excision of neuroma (may result in permanent foot numbness)

Non-invasive treatments should always be considered before seeking any invasive procedures. Your podiatrist will assess and guide you on the recommended treatment option.

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