Do you know that uncomfortable feeling you get when the seam in your sock gets bunched up underneath your foot? Or the nagging discomfort of a pebble in your shoe? Many people experience these sensations on a daily basis, with no sock or rock on which to place the blame. What is causing this feeling? The answer may lie deep within your foot in a condition known as a neuroma.
Neuromas occur when your nerve sheaths become inflamed, often as a result of bones rubbing together incorrectly. This inflammation often occurs between the bases of your toes in the ball of your foot. One of the most common areas affected is the area between the third and fourth toe, resulting in a condition known as Morton’s neuroma.
Ranging from numb to downright painful, pain or tingling may radiate down into the ends of your toes or up your ankle. You may even feel a slight pop between your toes as the inflamed nerve sheath rubs against your metatarsal bones.
If you are suffering from a neuroma, you deserve relief. At Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona, we offer a variety of treatments that can provide quick, lasting results. Keep reading to learn more about what causes this nerve pain, and what you can do about it.
What Causes the Irritation That Leads to Neuromas?
Your feet are extraordinarily complex structures, full of tiny bones, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. While feet can be very resilient, the daily beatings they endure in tight shoes, high heels, and extreme movements can often place stress on vulnerable places. When your toes are hyperextended or stretched, as they would be in high heels or strenuous activity, your metatarsal bones shift and the nerves between them may compress or stretch excessively.
Stretching or compression of the nerve between the bones can lead to inflammation of the nerve sheath, which only worsens the pressure exerted on the nerve. Some people’s feet are predisposed to this condition due to the structure of their foot, while others experience neuromas after daily wear or injury.
Does Nerve Pain Always Require Aggressive Treatment to Improve?
Many people picture nerve damage requiring intense surgery, but in the case of neuromas, conservative treatment may be just as (if not more) successful. When caught early, anti-inflammatory medication and shoe padding may relieve a majority of the stress in the ball of the foot. Switching from narrow or high-heeled shoes to more supportive shoes with a wider toe box may also alleviate pain.
For more serious and advanced neuromas, custom orthotics to shift your weight away from the affected area can reduce pressure on the nerve, while medication injections may reduce swelling and pain. For neuromas that do not respond to these treatments, minimally invasive surgery may be required to offer permanent relief.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: When Your Nerves Get Stressed
Pain, tingling, numb spots, everything feeling worse the more you walk around—you don’t just notice nerve problems in your feet; all of your movements begin to be dictated by what does and doesn’t hurt. Even worse, nerve pain comes with the added risk of permanent damage. So when the nerves in your feet and ankles get pinched or pressed, like in tarsal tunnel, you know you can’t ignore the discomfort.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tibial nerve—the large nerve that runs behind the inside bump of your ankle—becomes trapped and compressed. The pressure irritates the nerve and inflames the area. You usually feel the pain in the ankle, the sole of the foot, and occasionally radiating up the leg into the calf. Sometimes you experience spots of numbness or tingling as well. This condition is more than just uncomfortable; if pressure on the nerve isn’t relieved, the damage may be irreversible.
Tarsal tunnel doesn’t strike out of the blue. It usually develops from overuse. Extended periods of walking, standing, and exercising strain the ankle and could cause swelling, which then squeezes the tibial nerve. Anything, however, that leads to irritation in the ankle could trap it—ankle sprains, fallen arches, flatfeet, arthritis, and diabetes included. With proper care of your feet, you don’t have to deal with inflamed nerves and the pain that comes with them. Our team can provide conservative treatments to relieve that pressure, reduce stress, and support your feet to eliminate your pain.
After the doctors at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona have established that tarsal tunnel is the specific cause of your pain, they are able to determine your best treatment options. Relieving the pressure on the nerve is the key. Often rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications make a difference. Steroid injections may be needed for more intense pain. Sometimes adding support stabilizes the foot and relieves some stress on the ankle, so orthotics or braces may help. Conservative treatment is usually very effective in relieving symptoms, but some people find it doesn’t work. For serious and persistent cases, a surgical treatment, like a tarsal tunnel release, may be necessary.
Why Live With Pain? Visit Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona Today!
Nerve damage is a painful issue with potentially serious consequences for your foot and ankle. Permanent nerve damage means on-going foot problems. If you are experiencing pain in your foot or ankle, it isn’t worth the risk to ignore it. The doctors at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona can help you return your feet to normal and keep you from developing worse pain in the future. Schedule an appointment with our practice today to learn how you can get back to pain-free feet.