A neuroma is an irritated and compressed nerve located on the bottom of the foot that often causes an overgrowth of nerve tissue to develop. Neuromas often feel like lumps or bumps on the bottom of the foot, and they most frequently occur in the ball of the foot. Morton's neuroma is one of the most common types of neuromas, affecting the area of the ball of the foot between third and fourth toes. Neuromas typically occur when other tissues like ligaments or bone spurs, press on the nerve, causing it to become “pinched.” Neuromas can be caused by an inherited foot shape, an abnormal gait pattern, ill-fitting shoes (especially those that bind in the toe area) and high heels, trauma, and other causes.
Morton's neuroma is a condition that occurs when the tissue around the nerves in the ball of your foot – the area below the base of the toes – becomes thickened, impinging on the nerve and causing irritation and inflammation that can feel like a lump or knot in the bottom of your foot. This thickening can also result in pain, burning or tingling sensations in the toes. Athletes, people with deformities and conditions like flat feet or bunions, and people who wear high heels are more likely to develop Morton's neuroma, although it can occur in other people as well.
Neuromas can be quite painful, causing both local symptoms and pain that radiates into the toes or other areas of the feet. Pain is especially intense when the inflamed nerve is pressed or when pressure is exerted on the nerve when wearing shoes and placing weight on the foot. Other symptoms include burning sensations, numbness, and tingling sensations in the immediate area of the nerve and the areas served by the nerve, including the toes.
Most neuromas can be diagnosed during a routine office visit, but x-rays may be ordered to rule out other causes of symptoms. Once a neuroma has been definitively diagnosed, it can be corrected with a special surgical procedure designed to relieve the impingement, so the nerve is no longer compressed. The surgery can be performed through a tiny opening usually less than an inch wide. Some neuroma symptoms can be relieved with custom orthotics or injections of corticosteroids into the foot, but surgery is usually still necessary to treat the underlying cause. Thanks to the ISOGARD instrumentation set, Progressive Podiatry is now able to release binding ligaments and relieve pressure to the inflamed nerve tissue through an opening the width of a fingernail, with minimal surgery.
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