It can happen while you are sitting, standing, or even at rest in bed, but most commonly occurs while you are walking. One moment you are fine, the next a sharp, stabbing pain shoots through your toes. What is causing it and what can you do about it? Far West Podiatric Medical Group in Hawthorne, CA provides some answers about a fairly common foot condition—neuromas.
Defining the Pain
Some call it a tumor, some a growth, and others an intermetatarsal neuroma. However it is referred to, this condition results from changes in the nerve tissue that runs between the middle toes. The most common site is between the third and fourth toes.
This enlargement of the nerve happens because it being compressed and irritated by surrounding bones, ligaments, tendons. In the same sort of way that your skin forms calluses at points of friction, your tissue can grow thicker at the spot where it is being pressured.
This type of growth can lead to symptoms like tingling, a hot burning feeling, and pain or numbness. You may actually feel like you have a thick callus in or under that part of your forefoot.
Understanding the Reason
What can cause this compression in your forefoot? Shoes, for one thing. When you force your toes into shoes that are pointed or too narrow for them, the bones and ligaments are pressured, resulting in pinched nerves in your toes. A similar thing can happen with high heels that cause you to put all your weight on the ball of your foot.
There are several other possible causes. One is structural abnormalities in the feet—low or high arches, bunions, and hammertoes can all increase your risk for this condition. If you do a lot of running or jumping, repetitive trauma in this area can lead to this condition, as can jobs that involve pressure on the forefoot (think baseball catcher, gardener, or ladder work). An accident or injury in the foot can also lead to a neuroma.
Finding the Answer to Nerve Pain
The easiest place for you to start is by making sure that your footwear fits and has room for the toes to lie flat and straight. If this takes care of the symptoms, the nerve may be able to heal on its own. Sometimes padding the area or using a shoe insert or custom orthotic to relieve pressure works well, too.
In the past, corticosteroid medication was often injected into the area to relieve the pain and inflammation. If that didn’t work, surgery to remove part of the nerve was the only option to bring permanent relief.
Now there is a new treatment modality—chemical neurectomy—that shows promise of permanent pain relief without surgery. It involves an alcohol solution injected into the nerve that destroys that section of the nerve, meaning it is no longer able to send pain signals.
Foot Pain Help from the Experts
If you suffer from forefoot pain or suspect you have a neuroma, we will be happy to examine your foot and discuss your concerns and possible treatments. Just call Far West Podiatric Medical Group in Hawthorne, CA at (310) 675-0900 to schedule a time, or set up your appointment online. Our compassionate, professional care may make the difference between a life with foot pain and the ability to live and be active without discomfort, so contact us today.