A neuroma is simply an enlargement of nerve. This is a very common podiatric problem that presents usually with a strange sensation under the ball of the foot. It has been described as if your socks bunched up, but you’re not wearing any socks; it is an odd sensation that rarely causes the patient to seek medical help. There is no true discomfort at this early stage, but as the nerve enlarges with time the pain becomes severe. Left untreated the pain eventually radiates into the 2nd, 3rd or 4thtoes. The pain is so severe that often a sufferer thought they stepped on a knife. It actually feels like a hot, burning poker pierced the foot and that one or two toes have exploded. This is the kind of pain that may only last a few seconds but the memory never fades.
Now that you know what a Neuroma is the next question is, why did it form and what can be done to never have this type of pain again. There are nerves that run between the long bones in the foot and can become pinched between the heads of the 2nd and 3rd, or 3rd and 4th metatarsals causing the severe pain. The pain rarely occurs when walking barefooted on carpet or soft surfaces, but when a tight shoe is worn, it pushes the bones together, and the nerve becomes inflamed and painful. Hard surfaces, such as the soles of dress shoes, hard wood or tile floors, and uneven surfaces such as pebbles, are notorious for exacerbating the pain of a neuroma. The first treatment regardless of the level of pain is to make sure your shoes are not tight, if they are have them stretched.
There are many treatments including functional orthotics that take pressure off the nerve, cortisone injections that reduce the inflammation, surgery that removes the section of enlarged nerve, or Cryoablation. Cryosurgery was introduced into our practice about 10 years ago and has become an excellent alternative to invasive surgery. We have been able to reduce the number of Neurectomy (Mortons Neuroma Excision) procedures that we perform drastically. If you are suffering with a neuroma and are considering surgery you should first read up on cryosurgery as an excellent alternative.