If you’ve ever had a rock or pebble stuck between your foot and your shoe (and who hasn’t?), you really can only think about one thing—getting rid of it! If you suffer from Morton’s neuroma, you may get this sort of feeling all the time, and unlike a pebble, you can’t just knock it out of your shoe. If you want to get rid of the sensation for good, you’ll have to look at surgical options.
A Little Background—What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s neuroma is a relatively common condition located in the ball of the foot, typically at the base of the third and fourth toes. Injury or overuse causes the tissues surrounding the nerve there to thicken, pressing uncomfortably against it. Symptoms can include that painful standing-on-pebble feeling, along with tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation in your feet.
Is Neuroma Surgery Right for You?
The bad news is that Morton’s neuroma does not get better on its own, and surgery is the only way to completely relieve the pressure. That said, surgery is not for everyone. In fact, before we consider the knife, we strongly recommend you attempt conservative approaches first. Although these won’t “remove” the problem, strategies such as shoe modifications, laser treatments, or inserts can relieve pressure on the nerve and reduce your pain, making surgery unnecessary.
Understanding Neuroma Surgery
Once surgery has been approved, we’ll carefully evaluate your situation and choose a procedure based on your needs. The operation is performed as an outpatient, typically under local anesthesia (although some people prefer to be “put to sleep” instead).
The most common approach is decompression surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision and cuts some of the tissue structures surrounding the nerve—typically ligaments. The goal is to relieve the mechanical and physical forces applying pressure to the nerve, which in turn drastically reduces the pain of each step. In time, much of your nerve function may be restored.
A more serious approach would be to remove the damaged nerve itself. Although this is the most direct and effective way to take away pain, it may result in permanent sensation loss in the affected toes.
Surgery Recovery—What to Expect
One bit of good news—if the surgical incision was made on the top of the foot (as it usually is), you should be able to immediately return to weight bearing activity as tolerated. That said, you will need to take it easy in the early going, especially until the incision has fully healed.
In most cases we will provide you with a hard-soled protective shoe that you’ll need to wear for the first few weeks after surgery. This continues until the wound has healed and swelling has receded enough for you to return to normal shoes. The sutures are typically removed 2-3 weeks after surgery.
If the initial incision was made from the bottom—as it is on occasion for certain patients—there will be a period of time, usually at least a couple of weeks, where you will not be able to bear any weight on the front of your foot.
In either case, making sure you carefully follow all of our office’s instructions for post-operative care is critical for a healthy, fast, and full recovery. We’ll provide you with explicit instructions on what you’ll need to do, and we encourage you to ask us any questions you may have so that you fully understand the process.
Making the Call
If you’re suffering from persistent neuroma pain, you have options. From simple remedies such as switching to a wider pair of shoes all the way to surgical correction, our office has the knowledge and experience to provide you with the highest possible level of care. Call Harvey Danciger, DPM and schedule an appointment at our Palm Desert, CA office today. You can reach us at 760-568-0108, or contact us online.