A neuroma is a benign tumour caused by thickened nerve tissue. It can occur in various parts of the body, but the most common type is located in the foot. Patients of all ages can develop this condition, but it is more likely to affect those who are overweight or regularly place a lot of pressure on their feet. At Island Foot Clinics in Kelowna, BC and Victoria, BC, we usually offer patients minimally invasive treatments before recommending surgery.
What Is a Neuroma?
This condition is caused by a benign growth of nerve tissue, often between the third and fourth toes. Although the tumour isn’t cancerous, it can cause mobility issues and prevent the patient from walking normally, especially if it is left untreated for a long time. Anyone can suffer from this condition, but it is more likely to affect those who put stress on their foot bones and joints due to their weight, choice of shoes, or exercise routines.
People often have benign foot tumours for many years before they seek out professional help. They might not feel any pain at the beginning, so they don’t even know they have a tumour. Unfortunately, the symptoms tend to worsen over time, so patients eventually need treatment. Initially, foot doctors often try to treat benign tumours with medication or minimally invasive treatments, but surgery is sometimes necessary.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms?
The most common symptom of a benign tumour is severe foot pain. Thickened nerves might result in a burning sensation on the sole of the foot, a sharp or tingling pain, numbness, and clicking when walking. Most patients are more comfortable walking without shoes because pressure exacerbates the problem. They feel relief when they remove their shoes, and they might prefer to wear only socks or go barefoot when at home.
Aside from causing pain, the thickened nerve tissue also alters the way pain is perceived. Benign tumour patients frequently suffer from two kinds of abnormal sensations, also called dysesthesias. Allodynia occurs when patients feel pain from stimuli that shouldn’t cause pain, like a gentle touch or small amounts of pressure. Hyperalgesia is defined as heightened pain from stimuli that normally cause mild or moderate pain.
Why Do People Develop Benign Tumours?
Benign tumours are caused by an injury to the nerve. This could be an excessive stretch, a cut, a compression, or a crushing injury. Patients who frequently wear high heels, pointed shoes, or ill-fitted footwear are more likely to experience this problem because the tissues in their feet are frequently exposed to excessive pressure. Those who play sports and therefore place a lot of pressure on their feet are also at risk.
We frequently see benign tumours in people with genetic abnormalities like flat feet because they tend to have postural issues. Overweight patients and women who are pregnant are likely to suffer from a benign tumour. Sometimes, the issue can also be the result of an operation.
How Can Tumours Be Prevented?
Preventing foot problems is always better than treating them. If you believe that you’re at risk of developing a benign tumour, speak to us at Island Foot Clinics in Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC. We’ll help you to figure out how to minimize the likelihood of developing a thickened nerve. You might have to change the shoes you wear or modify your exercise routine, especially if you have flat feet or another genetic condition.
Take measures to lose weight if you’re currently overweight. Eat a healthy diet to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs, and perform low-impact exercises several times a week. Let us know if you’re not sure how to start your weight loss journey. We might be able to recommend fitness professionals who will help you meet your goals.
When to See a Victoria, BC or Kelowna, BC Doctor
Many people don’t even know they have thickened nerves because they don’t feel any pain. In this case, seeing a foot doctor isn’t necessary, and the tumour can be left alone. However, patients shouldn’t hesitate to contact their local foot clinic if they frequently feel discomfort. When left untreated, painful tumours can lead to a loss of mobility because the patient can no longer wear shoes and walk around without pain.
Give us a call if you’ve been experiencing stabbing, burning, or tingling pain in your foot for more than two to three weeks. We’ll use imaging studies to diagnose your condition and then develop a treatment plan. We don’t usually start by recommending surgery. Instead, we try minimally invasive treatments like medication, electrical stimulation, and injections. If they don’t work, we might consider removing your neuroma.
When you come to the clinic, we’ll start by asking you about your foot issues. In the days leading up to your visit, keep a record of your symptoms, their intensity, and their duration. The more information we have, the easier it is for us to diagnose your condition. We’ll also perform a physical exam to determine whether you have a benign tumour. Sometimes, there is a lump in the treatment area.
At other times, we have to perform the Tinsel test, which involves tapping over the path of the nerve. If there is tingling or pain, it’s likely that your symptoms are caused by a thickened nerve. An X-ray or ultrasound might be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. We might also inject a nerve block to see whether this alleviates your symptoms. If so, it’s likely that you have a benign tumour.
Holistic Treatment Options
People whose benign tumours are a result of their posture almost always benefit from physical therapy. An experienced physio releases tight muscles and shows patients how to maintain good alignment when walking, standing, and sitting. As a result, they no longer place too much pressure on certain areas of their feet, and their symptoms become more manageable.
Medication often helps to reduce pain. We sometimes administer anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs. Tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) change the way the brain processes pain signals, so they can be very helpful. Aside from drugs, we might also use corticosteroid injections, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to alleviate pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
Although the symptoms of thickened nerves can go away if patients take good care of their feet, benign tumours can’t be cured. That’s why minimally invasive treatments aren’t always enough. If the patient’s condition becomes worse over time, surgery might be necessary. We typically offer two types of surgery. Decompression involves cutting away tissues near the benign tumour to relieve pressure and make space for it.
The other option, nerve removal, involves cutting away the nerve in the affected area. This is sometimes the best option. However, the benign tumour can regrow if the patient doesn’t take good care of their feet or if another injury occurs. That’s why we always ask patients to wear soft and comfortable shoes, maintain a healthy weight, limit their participation in high-impact exercise, and optimize their posture after surgery.
Each year, thousands of people develop foot neuromas. While some don’t even notice their tumour, others experience significant pain and a loss of mobility. Fortunately, there are several nonsurgical and surgical treatments available. Reach out to us at Island Foot Clinics in Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC if you’re struggling with foot pain. We’ll diagnose your condition and come up with a treatment plan.