Cooling the Pain of Morton’s Neuroma with MassageJohn Stamoulos
A New Year usually means a surge toward action and movement in pursuit of stated goals. It’s a fresh page where you can write a fresh chapter of your life and act on! However, what happens if that ability to freely move is hindered by foot pain? Not a fun way to ‘hobble’ into the New Year, right?
A particularly common painful foot condition that can literally stop you in your tracks is called Morton’s Neuroma. A neuroma refers to pain that occurs due to an inflamed or irritated nerve. Mayo Clinic defines Morton’s neuroma as “a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes.” Morton’s neuroma presents most commonly as pain, burning or discomfort between the third and fourth toes or the second and third toes because the space between the bones in these areas are the narrowest and can cause the nerves that run along the bones to be compressed, causing pain and potentially long-term nerve damage.
While it is not known conclusively what causes this painful condition, there are some agreed-upon risk factors that appear to contribute to Morton’s neuroma:
- Anything that frequently compresses or irritates the nerves between the third and fourth, and second and third toes such as:
- Wearing high-heeled shoes or tight or poorly fitting shoes
- Any sports activities that use tight shoes (rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing) can abnormally pressure toes.
- Exercises such as walking, jogging or running that can subject the feet to repetitive pressure or hyperextension of the toes.
- Structural anomalies such as bunions, hammertoes, high arches or flatfeet can be at greater risk of neuroma.
- Scar tissue from prior injury such as fracture or ligament damage.
If you are wondering if you are suffering from neuroma, your doctor can examine your feet to make that determination. However, there are some common symptoms:
- Tingling that extends from the area between your third and fourth or second and third toes to the extreme ends of your toes and sometimes up your leg
- Burning in your feet or along the nerve connections that radiate up your leg
- Sharp or stabbing pain in your toe pad area that is sudden
- Numbness in your foot
- A feeling that there is something stuck in the ball of your foot or that you have a small stone in your shoe
- The pain has been gradually and increasingly more noticeable and more prolonged
Massage and Morton’s Neuroma
Massage therapy treatment for Morton’s neuroma requires a skilled professional as too much pressure applied in the wrong place can worsen the condition. To help relieve the pain, the massage treatment includes lighter pressure and the use of techniques that help create space between the bones and the compressed nerves, relax the foot muscles and soften the thickened tissues. As well, these treatments promote greater mobility in the area helping to reduce the pain and constriction in the toe areas. In some cases, using long strokes along the nerve pathways helps calm any inflammation.
Other support for Morton’s Neuroma:
In addition to massage therapy, Morton’s neuroma can be supported through the use of:
- Anti inflammatory medications
- Icing the area
- Changing footwear
- Stopping the activities that aggravate the condition (jogging, running, aerobic exercising, dancing) that create high impact on the feet
- Using arch supports and foot pads to take pressure off the damaged nerve area
- Receiving cortisol injections to provide temporary relief
- Surgery to loosen ligaments or remove the nerve
Massage therapy is generally a soothing and therapeutic solution for achy, painful feet and can provide welcome relief for Morton’s neuroma. It is recommended to be proactive with any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. Let your doctor determine the source of any of the symptoms you might be experiencing and seek treatment as soon as possible. It’s a New Year and perhaps you are looking at a more healthy approach to life. Taking care of anything that holds you back is a wise approach to your continued well-being.