A neuroma is an inflamed nerve. In the foot, the most
common place for a neuroma is between the third and
fourth toes. The main nerve to your foot originates in the
spine and travels down the back of the leg to the bottom of
the foot and out to the toes. When the nerve becomes
irritated, electrical or burning pain shoots out to the toes
when walking. The second, third and fourth toes can
become numb. There can be a sensation of walking on a
lamp cord or a lump. Removing the shoe and massaging
the ball of the foot can bring relief.
To help decrease the pain, try the following tips:
1. Rest. Every step you take aggravates the nerve.
Decreasing the time on your feet will help decrease the
inflammation. If you walk for exercise, try biking or
2. Avoid activities that aggravate the pain. Squatting, walking
or running hills, climbing up and down stairs and carrying
heavy items will increase the stress through the ball of the
foot and irritate the nerve. Taking the stress off the nerve will
help decrease the irritation, decrease the inflammation and
3. Wear low-heel shoes. Any shoe (cowboy boots or high
heeled dress shoes) will place excessive pressure on the
ball of the foot. Keep the heel height below 1 inch.
4. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. If the toes are cramped
together, this places pressure on the nerve, worsening the
irritation. Your toes should have enough room to "wiggle".
5. Wear rigid shoes. Wearing flexible shoes increases the
force placed through the ball of the foot. A rigid shoe with a
rocker sole will decrease the pressure on the nerve.
6. Ice your foot. Placing ice of the ball of the foot for 20
minutes once or twice a day will decrease pain and
7. Use contrast soaks. Start with 5 minutes of heat, then
apply 5 minutes of ice, then switch back to heat and
alternate for 20-30 minutes. Contrasting between hot and
cold will help decrease the inflammation around the nerve.
8. Place a neuroma pad in your shoe. A neuroma pad
(similar to a metatarsal pad) can be placed in the shoe,
under the ball of the foot. The pad lifts up the bones in the
foot to help decrease the pressure on the nerve. The pad
should be placed behind the ball of the foot.
9. Slip inserts into your shoe. Make sure the insert you buy
is an orthotic. The device should be semi-rigid to help
control motion in the foot. These can be bought at your local
running shop or sports store.
10. See your podiatrist. If the pain persists after taking these
steps, make an appointment with your podiatrist.
Christine Dobrowolski is a podiatrist and the author of
Those Aching Feet: Your Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment
of Common Foot Problems. To learn more about Dr.
Dobrowolski and her book visit
http://www.skipublishing.com. For information on products
which help treat neuromas visit