What is a Neuroma?

A neuroma is an abnormal growth or mass of nerve tissue that commonly develops in areas of the body where nerves have been injured or damaged. Neuromas are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that cause pain, numbness and tingling. 

Some types include:

  • Morton's Neuroma: a benign nerve growth in the foot caused by pressure or trauma
  • Palmar Neuroma: a growth of nerve tissue in the palm of the hand 
  • Sciatic Neuroma: a painful condition caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve 
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: a nerve compression disorder caused by pressure on the tarsal tunnel in the ankle 
  • Plantar Neuroma: a growth of nerve tissue on the sole of the foot 
  • Diabetic Neuropathy: nerve damage caused by diabetes

 Signs and Symptoms may include:

  • The ball of the foot is burning with pain.
  • Numbness or tingling in the ball of the foot 
  • Sensitivity or pain when walking or wearing shoes 
  • Pain radiating elsewhere in the foot or to other parts of the body 
  • Pain that gets worse after walking or standing for long periods 
  • Swelling or lump at the ball of the foot 
  • A feeling of a pebble or marble beneath the foot 
  • Difficulty wearing certain types of shoes

What are the Common Causes of Neuromas? 

The most common causes of a neuroma include repetitive activities, such as the repetitive motion of the ankle, a tight-fitting shoe, an injury or trauma to the foot, a high-heeled shoe, or an abnormality in the bones of the foot. In some cases, the cause of a neuroma is unknown.

How Can I Prevent the Development of a Neuroma? 

You can prevent the development of a neuroma by avoiding the activities that cause it. Wear properly fitting and cushioned shoes to reduce the potential for trauma and shearing forces on the interdigital nerves. If you participate in activities such as running or aerobics, choose shoes with good shock absorption features, which can help reduce nerve compression. If you experience numbness or tingling, stop the activity and rest your feet. Don’t put excess pressure on the ball-of-foot area, and regularly stretch and strengthen your feet, ankles and calf muscles.

When to Seek Medical Attention for  Neuromas

If anyone experiences any of the following symptoms for more than a few days and especially if the symptom is severe or increases in intensity or duration, it is important to seek medical attention: 

- Foot pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot

- Tingling, burning, or shock-like sensations in the ball of the foot 

- A sharp and shooting pain that radiates to the toes 

- A feeling of numbness and/or tingling in the toes 

- Pain and/or weakness in the toes that is worsened by weight-bearing activities 

Pain Relief for Neuroma Sufferers 

  1. Gentle Exercises: Gentle exercises, such as toe stretches and yoga poses, can help to ease the pain associated with a neuroma. 
  2. Padding: Padding your feet with orthopedic shoes or insoles can reduce the pressure points that can irritate nerve pain from the neuroma. 
  3. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may help to improve the strength and flexibility of the foot and reduce symptoms of perineural fibrosis. 
  4. Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections reduce swelling and pain in the affected area. (Note: Consult with your podiatrist)
  5. Ice and Heat Therapy: Alternating between hot and cold compresses can also help to reduce inflammation and pain. 
  6. Over-the-Counter Painkillers: Over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can help to relieve nerve pain from the neuroma. (Note: Consult with your podiatrist)
  7. Surgery: If symptoms persist, your podiatrist may recommend surgical options to address the neuroma. 

New Advances in the Treatment of Neuromas

Neuromas are a type of nerve injury that can cause significant pain and other symptoms. Despite advances in neurological science, neuromas remain challenging to treat, and symptoms can often persist for many years. Fortunately, recent advances in neuroma treatment offer new hope to those affected by such injuries. 

The most promising treatment currently available is the use of neuromodulation therapies. This involves the application of electrical pulses directly to the affected nerve to modulate its signals and reduce pain. These pulses can be administered through either an implanted device or externally. 

The use of stem cells is another promising approach that is being explored for the treatment of neuromas. Stem cells are hypothesized to reduce pain by replacing damaged nerve cells and fostering nerve regeneration. Further study is required to confirm the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy, which is still in its infancy.

Surgery is also an option for treating neuromas. In these cases, surgery aims to remove the source of pain by removing the damaged tissue. While surgery may be beneficial in some cases, it is not suitable for all patients, and the risks involved must be considered before deciding to proceed. 

Last but not least, a growing body of research indicates that non-invasive therapies like physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic may successfully reduce neuroma symptoms. These treatments reduce pain and improve muscle mobility and flexibility to encourage more normal nerve function. 

In conclusion, various treatment options are available for treating neuromas, and advances in neuroscience are bringing new hope to those affected by such conditions. Be sure to discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment with your podiatrist to make the best decision for your particular case.

Planning Your Next Visit With Greenberg Podiatry

By scheduling regular checkups with us at Greenberg Podiatry, you can feel confident that any future problems can be spotted early before developing into more significant issues requiring more intensive care! 

 So don't wait until it's too late – book an appointment today for healthful advice about planning your next visit with Greenberg Podiatry in Ottawa-- We anticipate hearing from you soon!