Neuromas and Neuroma Treatment
What is a neuroma?
When a nerve swells after being compressed (or due to an injury) a neuroma (also known as a Morton’s neuroma) is created. Sometimes labeled as a tumor, a neuroma is actually not a true tumor, but rather the enlargement of a nerve that can cause damage that can become permanent.
The ball-of-the-foot is the most common location for this condition to occur. There are nerves between the toes at the end of the long bones of the foot (the metatarsal bones). It is at these junctures that nerves are often compressed, which leads to swelling that forms a neuroma.
Neuromas are sometimes the result of a cut or a wound that causes injury to a nerve. This nerve condition can affect one foot or both feet. Most commonly they are found two and three.
Is burning pain in my toe a sign of a neuroma?
Pain from a neuroma is often described as tingling or burning in the ball of the foot, sometimes going into the toes. The pain may be extreme at times, but is often not constant. You might find that massaging the ball-of-the-foot helps with the discomfort, and that any irritation of the nerve makes the pain worse. Swelling of the nerve may result in a popping feeling as you walk.
How does the doctor diagnose a neuroma?
There are other conditions such as stress fractures, arthritis, and inflamed tendons that have similar symptoms, so a complete exam and medical history are taken as part of the diagnostic process. An x-ray may be ordered to rule out a break, ultrasound is commonly used.
If a neuroma is found, how will it be treated?
There are several ways that a neuroma can be addressed. Orthotics are often prescribed to relieve pressure from the area of the neuroma. Injection therapy is a common treatment to alleviate the pain.
Dr. Gauntt may use cryosurgery to freeze the area of concern. This process has been used in the past to remove moles and warts. However, with more advanced technology now available, cryosurgery is being used to treat neuromas. The benefits include stopping the pain of a neuroma while allowing it to heal. You can return to your regular activities within a day or two, and the treatment is finished in about fifteen minutes.
In severe cases, where permanent damage to the nerve has occurred, surgery may be necessary. The operation involves removing the damaged nerve.