The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics is redefining the way musculoskeletal care is delivered across the region with locations throughout Maryland, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Having a pebble or similar small object make its way into your shoe can make every step uncomfortable, but what if you’re experiencing this sensation but there is no object to blame? Many people experience this phantom sensation when walking, and oftentimes it’s caused by a condition known as Morton’s neuroma. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why Morton’s neuroma develops and how our team can help you treat the issue.
When a nerve is chronically irritated, your body will work overtime in order to help protect the nerve from future damage. Sometimes it does this by growing tissue around the nerve in hopes of insulating it from irritation. However, this extra tissue can end up compressing, pinching or otherwise affecting this nerve, causing it to send sensory signals to your brain. The same nerves that would be affected if you were to step on a pebble are sending out these signals when you take a step and put pressure on this extra tissue, so it can seem like you’re stepping on a small object when the sensation is really caused by the onset of this nerve irritation in your foot. When they develop in the foot region, neuromas are oftentimes classified as Morton’s neuromas.
Aside from a phantom sensation on the underside of your foot when walking, other symptoms associated with the formation of a neuroma include:
As we mentioned in the introduction, a neuroma tends to develop when a nerve is regularly irritated. This chronic irritation can be brought on by a number of things, but the most common factors in neuroma onset include ill-fitting shoes, overtraining/overstress on your feet or direct trauma to the area that results in inflammation and irritation.
As is the case with a number of foot conditions, treatment will be unique to the individual and tailored to the underlying cause of your neuroma. For example, simply changing your footwear to a more supportive pair of shoes can help to relieve your neuroma. Shoes with a narrow toe box or footwear that puts excessive strain on your forefoot (like high heels) can cause this chronic nerve irritation, but switching to a flatter option with a wider toe box and more supportive sole can take pressure off this nerve and lead to symptom relief.
For others, treatment may be a little more involved, but you can still typically find relief without surgery. Some treatments that your doctor may discuss with you may include a combination of the following - rest/activity modifications to limit stress on the forefoot, weight loss, anti-inflammatory medications and custom orthotic inserts.
If those methods still can’t provide relief, more hands-on care from a foot specialist may be needed. Steroid injections can help to calm inflammation and provide relief such that other conservative methods can be pursued, or a minimally invasive procedure to decompress the nerve can help take care of the issue. Most patients do not progress to this stage, but the longer you put off care for the neuroma, the more likely it is that you’ll need surgery to correct the issue, so don’t delay in seeking care if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms.
For more information about neuromas or different sensations you’re experiencing in your feet, reach out to the team at The Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics today at (703) 584-2040.