You’ve been walking around minding your own business but you keep feeling strange pains, numbness, and other weird symptoms on top of your foot near your toes. Sometimes you feel like there’s a small pebble stuck in your shoe. What’s going on? You very likely have Morton’s neuroma. Although there are other neuromas, this most common of neuromas occur between the 3rdand 4th toes and results from compression of the nerve. As the nerve gets compressed it starts to thicken and enlarge causing all the strange symptoms you can experience if you have it.
Morton’s neuroma is a condition that comes on slowly. At first, you may feel occasional pain when doing certain activities. But as time goes on and the neuroma enlarges you’ll start to feel more consistent pain and more symptoms.
Who Gets It?
Morton’s neuroma is more common in women because shoes with a narrow toe box and high heels are the biggest progenitors of this condition. However, people with certain foot types and conditions such as flat feet, flexible foot, bunions, and hammertoes are also at risk. That’s one of the reasons as your Seattle podiatrist I always recommend shoes with a wider toe box and heels that are no taller than one inch.
What Can Be Done?
Although there are many treatments that patients can try at home including icing and taking Ibuprofen, that won’t do much but temporarily relieve the pain caused by the neuroma. One of the most helpful treatments we use in our office that literally nips neuroma pain in the bud is alcohol injections. These injections are done using an ultrasound machine to guide us to ensure that we zero in on the neuroma. In our office, we do a series of four injections every ten days. The alcohol literally shrinks the nerve eliminating the problem in most patients.
Although I know having a needle in your foot is not anyone’s idea of a good time, this procedure works extremely well. In 2007, a study was conducted with 101 patients in the United Kingdom that demonstrated partial or total symptom improvement in 94% of the patients with 84% becoming totally pain-free as a result of the alcohol injections. Before we do any injecting, we numb the area which greatly alleviates any pain caused by the injection itself.
In addition to alcohol injections, the pain from neuromas can be alleviated using metatarsal padding and orthotics although these methods will not eliminate the neuroma.
If you want to nip your neuroma in the bud, call us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.
Photo credit: Foot Facts, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons