Morton’s Neuroma: What is it and How to Stop the Pain

A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of your body. In the foot, the most common occurring neuroma develops at the base of the third and fourth toes. This condition is referred to as Morton’s neuroma.

There are typically no physical signs of Morton’s neuroma, such as a lump or a knot. Instead, symptoms may include:

  • A sharp, achy or burning pain in the ball of your foot
  • Numbness, tingling, or cramping in the toes or forefoot
  • Feeling as if you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe

While the exact cause of Morton’s neuroma is unknown, the growth of the neuroma seems to occur in response to injury, pressure or irritation to one of the nerves that lead to the toes. People with foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and flat feet are at higher risk for developing a neuroma. Women are also more likely to develop this condition, as wearing high-heels or narrow-toed shoes can increase pressure on the toes. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running.

Morton’s neuroma can make walking and performing normal activities difficult and painful. Treatment options vary with severity, and identifying the neuroma in its earliest stage of development is important to avoid more invasive treatments or surgical correction. Left untreated, neuromas tend to worsen, so it’s always best to visit our office at the first sign of pain.

Early treatments aim to relieve or reduce pressure on the area around the affected toes. Depending on the severity of your neuroma, a podiatrist may recommend:

  • Modifications to footwear. Wide-toed shoes relieve pressure on the neuroma.
  • Shoe inserts or padding to provide support for the arch of the foot, which removes pressure from the nerve.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can help ease any pain and inflammation. Ask your doctor first.
  • Icing to reduce inflammation.
  • Rest to lessen repetitive pressure on the neuroma.

In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended for patients who do not respond to conservative treatments. We can help you determine the best approach for your specific condition.


Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia denotes a common foot condition characterized by pain and inflammation of the joints and bones of the ball of the foot – the area just before the toes, also called the metatarsal region.

Symptoms of metatarsalgia can develop suddenly, especially after an increase in exercise or high-impact activities, but normally the problems develop over time. Common symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot – the part of the sole just behind the toes
  • Pain that intensifies when you stand, walk or run
  • Pain that radiates from the balls of the feet into the toes
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes
  • A feeling in your feet as if you are walking with a pebble in your shoe
  • Pain that increases when walking barefoot

Sometimes a single factor can trigger metatarsalgia. More often, multiple factors contribute to the pain, including:

  • Over-training or Over-activity. Extensive training and high-impact sports, especially running, places an abnormal amount of stress on the balls of the feet, causing irritation, inflammation and pain.
  • Other foot disorders. High arches, hammertoes, bunions, stress fractures and Morton’s neuroma can all trigger metatarsalgia symptoms.
  • Poor-fitting footwear. High heels, narrow-toed shoes and shoes without adequate padding can all contribute to metatarsal problems.
  • Excess weight. Extra weight places excess pressure on your metatarsals.
  • Aging. The fat pads on the metatarsals thin out as a person ages, diminishing the ability of the metatarsal bones to protect themselves.

Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can disrupt your day to day activities, and when left untreated can lead to additional pain in your unaffected foot, back or hips. Treatment to eliminate metatarsalgia symptoms can be as simple as resting, icing the affected area and wearing proper-fitting shoes to significantly reduce swelling and ease pain.

When conservative treatments aren’t effective and pain persists, visit our practice for a full exam and a proper diagnosis. In most cases, metatarsalgia can be treated non-surgically. An experienced podiatrist may prescribe specially-designed orthotics or shock-absorbing insoles and arch supports to prevent and minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.


Easy Ways to Prevent and Treat an Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, can be annoying and painful. This common condition occurs when the surrounding skin on one or both sides of the nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself penetrates the skin. As the nail digs into the skin, redness, swelling, and pain are often the result.

People develop ingrown toenails for various reasons. Poor nail-trimming is the most common cause, as this encourages the skin to fold over the nail. Other causes include trauma, such as stubbing a toe, or skin conditions, such as fungal infections or nails that are simply too large. In some cases, the condition may even be inherited. Poor fitting shoes generally aggravate the condition, making it worse.

Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:

  • Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks
  • Protecting feet from trauma when possible
  • Trimming toenails straight across and avoiding repeated trimming of the nail borders
  • Keeping feet clean and dry to prevent infection

If an infection is not suspected of your ingrown, it can usually be safely treated from home by soaking your foot in warm water. Avoid “bathroom surgery” and repeated cutting of the nail as this will only make the condition worse.

When attempts to reduce your symptoms from home fail, or when pain, inflammation, swelling or discharge accompany your ingrown, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by a podiatrist at our office. People with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should always seek care immediately if an ingrown nail is detected, regardless of the severity.

A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment for your condition. For an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Other treatments may involve trimming or removing the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.

Ingrown toenails may be annoying, but rest assured that they can easily be prevented and treated with the help of your podiatrist. If you think you have an ingrown toenail, visit  our practice for quick and easy treatment.


Treating Your Bunions

A bunion (also known as hallux valgus), is a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe that causes the bone to protrude, forming a bump on the inside of the foot. Bunions are often painful and cause the big toe to slant away from the joint bone in the direction of the other toes. Bunions result from excessive pressure on the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which causes pain and inflammation. In addition to protruding from the side of the foot, the skin over a bunion may also become red and develop a callous or corn. The podiatrists at The Foot and Ankle Center in St. Louis, MO, advise patients to schedule an appointment when pain or sensitivity persists for more than two weeks, and does not respond to self-care and conservative methods like rest or over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.

Bunion Prevention and Treatment in St. Louis, MO

Bunions typically start out small, but get progressively worse over time, making it difficult to walk or even wear shoes in many cases as the protrusion grows larger and the joint becomes more inflamed. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), bunions are more common in women, although they can affect anyone. The most common causes are wearing tight, poorly fitting shoes that squeeze the toes, heredity or inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, which leads to joint pain and deterioration.

Podiatrists typically prescribe conservative treatments like ice and ibuprofen to relieve swelling and inflammation as the initial method of treatment. Switching to comfortable and supportive footwear to relieve pressure on the joint, and shoe inserts like padding to prevent friction between the bunion and shoe or custom orthotic supports are also common. If conservative treatments fail and the pain and inflammation from a larger bunion make it difficult to walk and put pressure on the toe, a podiatrist may recommend surgery to shave the protruding portion of the bone and help to properly realign the toe.

Find a Podiatrist in St. Louis, MO

A little foot pain from time to time is normal. But persistent pain or swelling can be a sign of an injury or orthopedic condition. For more information on bunion treatment and recovery, contact The Foot and Ankle Center by calling (314) 487-9300 to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in St. Louis today.


Hammertoes

A hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.

Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
  • Redness or swelling at a toe joint
  • Development of calluses and corns
  • Open sores in severe cases

The foot and ankle professionals at our office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:

  • Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
  • Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
  • Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
  • Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
  • Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft

Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. We can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don’t respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe’s flexibility and eliminate the pressure.

Hammertoes are progressive – they don’t go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.