Neuromas are enlarged benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves. Pressure from poorly-fitting shoes or abnormal bone structure can create the condition as well. Treatments include special shoes or inserts and/or cortisone injections, but surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.
A neuroma can be a painful condition and is often referred to as a “pinched nerve” or a nerve tumor. It brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
The principal symptom associated with a neuroma is pain between the toes while walking. Relief can be found by stopping the activity of walking/running. Many describe the pain akin to having a stone in his or her shoe. The vast majority of people who develop neuromas are female.
Neuromas are commonly caused because of the impingement between the metatarsal heads. The most common neuroma (Morton's Neuroma) develops when this communicating branch between the 3rd and 4th digits gets restricted and inhibits movement of the nerve which can lead to inflammation.
Although the exact cause for neuroma is unclear, many factors can potentially contribute to the formation of a neuroma:
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 can cause or exacerbate a neuroma. (e.g. high-heeled shoes over 2" can create downward pressure on the neuroma).
Repetitive stress, common to many occupations, can create or aggravate a neuroma.
Biomechanical deformities, like 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.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
Podiatric medical care should be sought at the first sign of pain or discomfort. If left untreated, neuromas tend to get worse and become more painful.