Most people like simple, straightforward answers to their questions—if X, then Y. However, the reality of foot care is that many common problems do not necessarily have one explanation. A Morton’s neuroma, a thickening of nerve tissue that causes pressure and pain between the third and fourth toes, is just one of many examples. One case may be related to trauma, while another related to shoes and another with no obvious reason at all.
While we won’t always know what precisely caused your neuroma or be able to predict one with certainty, we do know that a few particular issues are very common contributing factors—and the more you have, the more likely a neuroma will form. The suspects include:
Physical injury. Nerves can be injured just like any other tissue. In some cases it might be the result of a single, traumatic impact, but most of the time the injury is more subtle. Rather than suffer one major, obvious event, the nerve could be repeatedly pressed, compressed, and stressed by repetitive activities—say, at a job that requires lots of standing, crouching, or moving up and down ladders, or playing a sport that involves a lot of running.
Biomechanical structures. Certain foot shapes seem be especially inviting to neuroma formation. Arches that are either too high or too low seem particularly susceptible, as do feet with existing deformities such as bunions or hammertoes. If your foot isn’t balancing forces properly, extra weight and pressure can come down on the nerve, causing the neuroma.
Bad shoes. If your shoes aren’t supporting you properly, the end result can be painful friction and pressure against a nerve. High heels are infamous in this regard, especially those with greater than 2” of lift, as they throw all of your body weight onto your toes and forefoot. Avoid narrow, triangular toe boxes as well, regardless of heel height, as these can easily pinch and compress the nerve between your fourth and fifth toes.
The good news is that, whatever the cause may be, Harvey R. Danciger, DPM can help you deal with a painful neuroma, choosing a strategy based on your level of discomfort and personal goals. Whether it’s taping or padding, arch supports, orthotics, laser therapy, surgery, or just a comfortable new pair of shoes, our goal is to provide the right treatment, tailored to you, that will get you back on your feet as soon as possible. You can schedule an appointment online, or give us a call at 760-568-0108 today.
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