What Is a Neuroma?
A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that may develop in various parts of the body. The most common neuroma in the foot is Morton’s neuroma, which occurs between the third and fourth toes. It is sometimes referred to as an intermetatarsal neuroma. Intermetatarsal describes its location in the ball of the foot between the metatarsal bones. Neuromas may also occur in other locations in the foot.
The thickening of the nerve that defines a neuroma is the result of compression and irritation of the nerve. This compression creates enlargement of the nerve, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage.
Anything that causes compression or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of a neuroma. One of the most common offenders is wearing shoes that have a tapered toe box or high-heeled shoes that cause the toes to be forced into the toe box or pressure to be more pronounced at the balls of the feet. People with certain foot deformities—bunions, hammertoes, flatfeet or more flexible feet—are at higher risk of developing a neuroma. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation to the balls of the feet, such as running or court sports. An injury or other types of trauma to the area may also lead to a neuroma.
Treatment for neuromas range from a change in shoe selection to surgery. Most of the time, it is a treatable condition with conservative treatment, like injectables and custom orthotics to realign the biomechanics of the feet that put pressure to the location of the neuromas. Consultation with the foot doctor will provide a treatment plan that is most suitable to your needs.