Think pinched nerves only occur in the spine? Think again. Pinched nerves can also occur in other parts of the body, including the foot. Also known in the medical world as Morton's neuroma, this condition is characterized by inflammation and enlargement of li ttle nerves in between the toes, due to pressure placed on the nerve from by the adjacent bones (metatarsal heads), causing the nerve to be pinched or squeezed. The site that is usually affected is in between the 3rd and 4th toes, but foot specialists also see it quite often in between the 2nd and 3rd toes.
Symptoms of Morton's neuroma include a sharp, burning pain in between the toes, tingling, or a pins and needles feeling, numbness, a feeling that there is a scrunched-up sock or pebble in the ball of your foot, swelling between the toes, and less often, separation of the toes . Common causes of Morton's neuroma include wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels. On that note, it is often seen in women. Participation in high - impact athletic activities and sports that require the athlete to wear tight -fitting footwear can also lead to this problem. Other, less common conditions that can put people at risk for developing Morton's neuroma include congenital foot problems, high- arched or flat feet, bunions, and hammertoes.
Treatment at home can include taking your shoes off and massaging the foot, rest, ice, wearing shoes that are wide in the front, and using over -the - counter anti- inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Your foot specialist can often make the diagnosis of Morton's neuroma with careful history and his or her clinical examination in the office. Symptoms are often reproduced by squeezing the area that hurts, and when an audible click is heard when the doctor squeezes the forefoot. It is common for your doctor to order an ultrasound or MRI test, in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Common treatments you r foot specialist may recommend tha t can improve your symptoms include specialized pads , which are placed on the bottom of your foot, custom foot inserts (orthotics), steroid injections , and numbing the area with local anesthetic. A very valuable treatment option, which has proven time and time again to provide a high rate of success, is alcohol sclerosing injections. Treatment is comprised of a series of six injections, each one two weeks apart, when your foot specialist injects a very s mall amount of a specialized alcohol, called dehydrated alcohol, into the area where the Morton's neuroma is located. Aside from being very effective in significantly improving or eliminating your symptoms , other major advantages of alcohol sclerosing injections include quick recovery, no down time, and very importantly, the ability to avoid surgery.
Surgery, though, in the form of excision or removing the portion of the nerve that is affected, or decompression, might be warranted, in the event your sympt oms fail to improve with extensive conservative treatment.