A neuroma is a painful condition, also referred to as a “pinched nerve” or a nerve tumor. It is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toes. It brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.

Neuroma & Neuritis Q & A

Although the exact cause for this condition is unclear, a number of factors can contribute to the formation of a neuroma:

  • Biomechanical deformities, such as a high-arched foot or a flat foot, can lead to the formation of a neuroma. These foot types bring on instability around the toe joints, leading to the development of the condition.
  • Trauma can cause damage to the nerve, resulting in inflammation or swelling of the nerve.
  • Improper footwear that causes the toes to be squeezed together is problematic. Avoid high-heeled shoes higher than two inches. Shoes at this height can increase pressure on the forefoot area.
  • Repeated stress, common to many occupations, can create or aggravate a neuroma.

The symptoms of a neuroma include the following:

  • Pain in the forefoot and between the toes
  • Tingling and numbness in the ball of the foot
  • Swelling between the toes
  • Pain in the ball of the foot when weight is placed on it

Podiatric medical care should be sought at the first sign of pain or discomfort. If left untreated, neuromas tend to get worse.

For simple, undeveloped neuromas, a pair of thick-soled shoes with a wide toe box is often adequate treatment to relieve symptoms, allowing the condition to diminish on its own. For more severe conditions, however, additional treatment may be necessary that may include padding and taping of the area, anti-inflammatory medication and cortisone injections, or custom orthotics. If neuroma progresses despite the treatment podiatric surgery may become necessary. The procedure, which removes the inflamed and enlarged nerve, can usually be conducted on an outpatient basis, with a recovery time that is often just a few weeks.

Neuritis of the Foot

Neuritis can occur anywhere in the body. Podiatrists can treat neuritis in your foot – it can occur in your heel, toes, and metatarsal (ball of foot) area. Neuritis is an inflammation of the nerves in your foot. This inflammation can have many possible causes, such as an injury, an infection, a vitamin deficiency, or damage to the vessels that supply blood to the nerve. A biomechanical problem can put pressure on or damage a nerve. The symptoms can be similar to those of peripheral neuropathy; tingling, burning “pins and needles” pain, and even numbness. Treatment of neuritis starts with figuring out what the exact cause of your pain is. Treatment options can include custom orthotics, diet changes/supplements, medication, and cortisone injections.