A pebble in your shoe is painful. Small as it may be, a rock pokes up into your feet and damages the soft tissues above it. It doesn’t usually take long for people to pause and shake the stone out of their footwear, instead of continuing to walk on it. Sometimes, however, that painful sensation is actually nerve damage, like Morton’s neuroma.
Pinched and Swollen Nerves
Morton’s neuroma is a painful thickening and enlargement of the nerve between the ends of your metatarsal bones, where they meet your toes. The most common location is in between the third and fourth digits. The problem typically develops from repeated pressure and irritation on the ball of the foot, though sudden trauma could also cause one. Strain on the forefoot pinches the nerve between the bones and other soft tissues in the area. Over time, this aggravates it. It swells and develops a painful neuroma.
Usually there are no visible lumps under your foot, but it may feel like you are standing on a stone. Often the ball of the foot aches and burns. Sometimes this feeling radiates into the toes as well. Sometimes you develop numbness in the affected digits. The pain gets worse with activity and improves somewhat with rest. Footwear that squeezes the digits or forces your bodyweight onto the ball of your foot tends to make the condition worse. Like other nerve problems, you do need to address the issue before the damage becomes permanent.
Reduce the Pressure, Improve the Pain
Nerve pain from Morton’s neuroma is hard to deal with, but it can be treated. We will examine the affected foot to determine the exact location of the problem and rule out other possible sources for your discomfort. Our staff may need diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of the damage inside the foot, too. Then we can help you determine the best possible solution for your discomfort.
To decrease the swelling and irritation in the nerve tissue, the pressure on the foot needs to be managed. You may need to change you footwear to models that have wider toe boxes, sufficient arch support, and more padding under the ball of the foot. Avoid high heels or other shoes that put additional pressure on the forefoot. You may need an orthotic device to help control any preexisting condition or abnormal motion in your lower limbs that could contribute to the problem.
Icing the foot can help decrease inflammation around the nerve. Sometimes massaging and exercising the affected toe can improve some of the discomfort. You may need to modify your activities as well so your foot doesn’t have to absorb so much strain. If the pain persists, direct injections of anti-inflammatory medication may help.
Seeking Medical Help
If conservative measures are unsuccessful in relieving your pain, you may need surgery. A Morton’s neuroma surgery may simply release the pressure on the nerve, or it may involve completely removing the damaged tissue. These procedures quickly reduce the discomfort you feel in your forefoot.
If you’re struggling with persistent ball of the foot pain or feel like you’re standing on a stone, you may have a Morton’s neuroma. This condition is painful, but not impossible to treat. The sooner you address your discomfort, the greater your chances of managing it without surgery. Request more information or an appointment from Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona today. Call, fax, or fill out our online request form to reach our two offices: for our Chandler location, call (480) 963-9000 and fax (480) 963-0375; for our Gilbert office, call (480) 981-1800 and fax (480) 981-0229.