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Neuromas: A Frequent Cause Of Foot Pain

  • Category: Foot & Ankle
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: William W. McNair, DPM

Are you suffering from episodic or chronic pain in the ball of your foot? People who experience foot pain may sometimes be told they have a stress fracture or bone bruise, when in fact the cause is a neuroma. An enlarged nerve between the third and fourth toes, neuromas develop over time and cause a sharp shooting pain radiating from the ball of the foot. Some people liken the pain to a red-hot poker being stuck into their foot. In extreme cases, the pain can radiate from the ball of the foot all the way up the back of the leg.

What causes a neuroma? The condition is more prevalent in people with flat feet, and women are especially prone to developing neuromas because tight shoes and high heels contribute to the problem. Over time, the nerve becomes inflamed and enlarged. Changing to less constrictive footwear can help. Icing the problem area and cortisone injections can also provide relief. This is especially true if the pain has only persisted for a few months.

If the pain endures for longer than a few months and some people live years with the condition–surgery may be necessary. The operation involves removing the affected nerve and usually provides a permanent solution to the condition. Of the patients I see with neuromas that have lasted longer than three or four months, 20 percent of the men and 75 percent of the women will require surgery. In most cases, patients who have the surgery are back on their feet in three days, and to full activities within two-to-three weeks, following the procedure.

The good news is this: you don’t need to suffer with foot pain. If you suspect you may have a neuroma, be sure to seek the attention of a foot specialist.