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What Happens When Irritation Hits a Nerve?

What do shoes that pinch, socks that rub, and running a marathon have in common? They’re all examples of things that can irritate the skin on your feet and form visible lesions such as blisters, rashes, corns, and calluses. But there are times when irritation isn’t just skin deep. Pressure or irritation can also affect interior structures of the foot – a nerve, for example. When a nerve is repeatedly irritated, it becomes inflamed and thick. These thickened areas of a nerve are called neuromas.

Neuromas in the feet typically form between the third and fourth toes. Some of our patients with neuromas tell us that it feels like they’ve got a pebble in their shoe. Many will say they’ve got tingling, burning, numbness, or pain just above the ball of their foot. Their discomfort can often be traced to tight shoes and extreme sports, but those aren’t the only culprits. Other causes of neuromas include structural deformities such as flat feet and injury or trauma to the nerve.

How to treat a neuroma

At home, you can reduce or eliminate symptoms of a neuroma by

  • resting your foot
  • icing the area between your third and fourth toes
  • avoiding activities that seem to make the pain and numbness worse
  • taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • swapping out narrow-toed shoes for shoes with a wider toe box.

If none of these methods give you relief, make an appointment with board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia. Dr. Wilhelm can provide:

  • custom-made shoe inserts that reduce pressure on the nerve
  • stronger anti-inflammatory medications available only by prescription
  • cortisone injections and radiofrequency therapy to ease inflammation of the nerve
  • Neuroma surgery – an option for symptoms that don’t respond to conservative methods of treatment.

Dr. Wilhelm is committed to providing Fairfax County patients with caring, comprehensive, expert treatment of neuromas and other painful conditions of the feet and ankles. To make an appointment with us, call (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.

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