What is a Foot Neuroma – and how can I treat it?

elderly man's foot

Have you ever heard of a neuroma? You might not be familiar with the term, but chances are, you or someone you love have experienced foot swelling, irritation and possible nerve damage caused by neuromas. Neuromas are a prevalent foot issue, affecting one out of three people – primarily women. 

Neuromas are a compression-related thickening of your foot’s nerve tissue, causing a tumor-like growth between the nerves. While neuromas can develop in different areas of your foot, Morton’s neuroma is the most common. Patients with Morton’s neuroma typically experience pain and swelling in the medial plantar nerve between the base of the 3rd and 4th toes (on the “ball” of your foot).

The most common causes for neuromas include:

What are the symptoms of a Morton’s neuroma?

Neuroma symptoms begin gradually and worsen over days and weeks as the nerve enlarges and thickens.

“The best time to treat a neuroma is in the early stages of symptoms,” says Sarah Cullen, DPM, a podiatrist at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “An early diagnosis of a Morton’s neuroma greatly minimizes the need for invasive treatments or surgery.”

If you have a Morton’s neuroma, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms:

Neuroma symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as peripheral neuropathy, which causes weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet. A neuroma is a tumor-like mass between the nerves, while peripheral neuropathy is a chronic nerve disorder.

Neuroma treatment options

If you are experiencing mild to moderate neuroma, our podiatry experts recommend conservative treatments first.

Successful neuroma treatment options include:

If your neuroma still causes you significant pain after conservative treatments, the final option is surgery. However, our podiatry experts caution only considering neuroma surgery as a last resort.

“Surgery is an option for patients who haven’t gotten relief from other treatments,” says Drennan Josey, DPM, a podiatrist at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “Conservative treatment should be exhausted before considering surgery, given the risk of complications and that the success rate is only between 80-85%.”

Dr. Cullen and Dr. Josey encourage patients experiencing neuroma symptoms to schedule an appointment with a specialist. Early treatment can slow the progression of a neuroma – and most importantly, help you avoid permanent nerve damage.

Call for an appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Roper St. Francis Healthcare podiatry team member, please call (843) 402-CARE or visit rsfh.com.