A neuroma is a tender area that develops as a result of an overgrowth or swelling of nerve tissue. Sometimes referred to as benign nerve tumors, neuromas tend to develop in the ball of the foot where pressure is concentrated during walking, standing, and other activities, but they can occur in other areas as well. One of the most common types of neuroma in the feet is Morton's neuroma, a painful swelling that occurs in the ball of the foot. Most neuromas can be diagnosed with an examination of the foot which looks for lumps or bumps under the skin that are associated with neuroma symptoms when pressed or touched.
Many neuromas can be diagnosed with a physical examination of the foot and gentle pressure on the ball of the foot to locate areas of thickened tissue and to observe and evaluate the resulting sensations. Sometimes, x-rays may also be ordered to ensure symptoms are not being caused by another condition.
Most neuromas respond well to conservative treatment options aimed at reducing the pressure and irritation around the nerve so inflammation and pain can resolve. Often, switching to footwear that fits properly can provide significant relief of symptoms while also reducing the pressure that causes nerve inflammation. Avoiding high heels is also important since the sloped shape of the shoe can significantly increase pressure on the ball of the foot where neuromas are most likely to occur. Custom orthotics can be very effective in helping relieve pressure on nerve tissue so pain and inflammation can resolve. Pain medications including both oral medicines and injected solutions can also be effective in providing immediate relief for symptoms, including both pain and inflammation. Other techniques like extracorporeal shockwave therapy can also be effective in treating neuromas and relieving symptoms. When surgery is necessary, the doctors use minimal incision/no scar surgeries to improve recovery time and reduce the risk of scarring.