A neuroma is a medical condition where nerve tissue thickens or enlarges, causing compression and irritation of the nerve. In the foot, one of the most prevalent types of neuroma is Morton’s neuroma or an intermetatarsal neuroma, which occurs between the third and fourth toes, in the ball of the foot. This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, and potential treatments for intermetatarsal neuroma.
Frequent compression or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of intermetatarsal neuroma. The most common risk factors for intermetatarsal neuroma are wearing shoes that have a tapered toe box or high heels, which force the toes into a tight space. The condition is also commonly seen in individuals with foot deformities like bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, or those with more flexible feet. Repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot from activities such as running or court sports and foot trauma are some other potential causes of intermetatarsal neuroma.
Individuals with intermetatarsal neuroma may experience a range of symptoms, including tingling, burning, or numbness in the foot, pain, a feeling that something is inside the ball of the foot, and the sensation of something in the shoe or that there is a sock bunched up. The symptoms of intermetatarsal neuroma progress gradually, usually starting when wearing narrow-toed shoes or performing certain activities, and can worsen if left untreated.
To diagnose intermetatarsal neuroma, a foot and ankle surgeon will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and medical history before performing a physical examination to try and reproduce the individual’s symptoms. Additional imaging studies may also be conducted. Early diagnosis of intermetatarsal neuroma, and seeking help from a professional like Dr Gilbert Huang DPM, can greatly reduce the need for invasive treatments and avoid surgery.
Treatment for intermetatarsal neuroma depends on the severity of the condition, how long the patient has had it, and its stage of development. Here are some non-surgical treatment options:
– Padding : Padding techniques provide support for the metatarsal arch, reducing the pressure on the nerve and decreasing compression when walking.
– Icing: Placing an icepack over the affected area helps reduce swelling.
– Orthotic devices: Custom orthotic devices provide support and reduce pressure and compression on the nerve.
– Activity modifications : Avoid activities that put repetitive pressure on the neuroma.
– Shoe modifications: Wear well-fitting shoes with a wide toe box and avoid narrow-toed shoes or shoes with high heels.
– Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
– Injection therapy: Injections of cortisone, local anesthetics, or other agents may be used to treat intermetatarsal neuroma.
When to consider surgery :
Patients who have not responded adequately to non-surgical treatments may require surgical intervention. Foot and ankle surgeons will determine the type of surgery best suited for the patient’s condition, and the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure performed.
Regardless of whether the patient underwent surgical or non-surgical treatment, the surgeon recommends long-term measures to prevent a recurrence of the neuroma. Using appropriate footwear and avoiding repetitive pressure on the foot can help prevent a return of symptoms associated with intermetatarsal neuroma.
In conclusion, intermetatarsal neuroma is a painful condition caused by nerve-thickening and enlargement in the foot. Seeking help from a professional like Dr Gilbert Huang DPM, early diagnosis, and treatment can help reduce the need for invasive treatment options, including surgery. Patients must take appropriate measures and precautions to prevent neuroma recurrence.