Nerve Entrapments

Morton’s neuroma is one example of a nerve entrapment and is characterized by an enlarged nerve and thickening of tissue between the third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma can often cause a sharp and/or burning sensation in the ball of the foot, usually in response to irritation, trauma or severe pressure. The toes may burn, sting, or even feel numb. This disorder is also often referred to as tarsal tunnel syndrome. Morton’s neuroma occurs as the nerve passes under the ligament connecting the bones in the toe (metatarsals) in the forefoot causing pressure, which is often responsible for nerve pain in foot areas.

Since there is little room for expansion in the small area between the toes, if any of these structures becomes enlarged or if a foreign object intrudes into the tarsal tunnel area it can cause nerve entrapment (i.e. tarsal tunnel pain). The pain in the tarsal tunnel nerve usually worsens as the day progresses and can usually be relieved by elevation, rest, or massage. The symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome are generally 8 to 10 times higher in women than men.

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colorado foot institute nerve entrapments

Nerve Entrapment Symptoms

  • Burning nerve pain in the foot, generally in the ball of the foot, that may spread to the toes. This pain generally increases with physical activity or wearing shoes.
  • The feeling that something is inside the ball of the foot, or that there’s an object or bump inside the shoe or a sock is bunched up.
  • There may also be numbness in the toes, or an unpleasant sensation in the toes.

Athletes may feel some pain as they push off on the affected foot. High-heeled shoes put the foot in a similar position, which can duplicate the symptoms. Tight or narrow shoes often irritate this condition by pinching the nerves in the toes and compressing the toe bones.

Morton’s neuroma symptoms are generally not external. There are no outwardly visible signs to aid in diagnosis.

Nerve Entrapment Causes

The causes of tarsal tunnel are not fully understood. It is thought that tarsal tunnel syndrome may appear as a result of irritation, pressure, or an injury to one of the digital nerves that lead to the toes. And that he body’s response to this injury may involve a thickening the nerve tissue in that area.

Other causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • Wearing high heel shoes or shoes that are tight fitting, including shoes that put pressure on your toes
  • Strenuous or high impact athletic activities, such as running may make your feet susceptible to repetitive trauma
  • Foot injuries
  • Certain foot deformities such as hammertoes, bunions, flatfeet or extreme flexibility
  • In other cases, there is no clear determinant of pressure or irritation.

Nerve Entrapment Prevention

The best bet for preventing tarsal tunnel entrapment is to choose proper footwear. We recommend that shoes for tarsal tunnel syndrome prevention have high and wide toe areas.

Also see Morton’s neuroma

Tarsal tunnel treatment, as with other nerve and foot pain, generally begins with some common non-surgical suggestions:

  • Avoid tight shoes and/or high heels and look for wider shoes and shoes with soft soles. This enables the bones to spread, which reduces pressure and often helps nerve entrapment foot problems.
  • Custom shoe inserts and pads may help relieve nerve entrapment in the foot.
  • In severe cases of foot nerve pain, injection of corticosteroid to the affected area can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerve.

If any of the above foot nerve pain treatment does not relieve your symptoms, Dr Mechanik can discuss other treatment options with you. These may include tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery. It is best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. If you have a burning pain in the ball of your foot that has not improved, even after you changed your footwear and altered activities that may cause strain to your foot, see Dr. Mechanik. Dr. Mechanik can examine your foot/feet and determine whether Morton’s neuroma or another condition may be causing your pain. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent the need for surgery.

We Can Help

Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions. He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and a twenty-four month surgical Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.  He is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery.

A variety of conditions can cause Nerve Entrapment. Dr. Mechanik can help you find relief. Schedule your appointment today by calling us at 303-333-3383.