Nerve Surgery and Recovery for Foot Neuroma
Ever get a pebble stuck in your shoe? Most people can’t wait to take off their footwear and shake it out. If you have a neuroma, though, you might have that sensation all the time, whether you’re wearing shoes or not. It’s something you just can’t shake.
Neuromas are an unwanted growth of nerve tissues. These tumors tend to be benign, but when they occur on your feet, they can make standing and walking very painful, and ultimately nerve surgery may be necessary. Morton’s neuroma, the most common such foot condition, can develop on the ball of your foot (commonly between the third and fourth toes, though sometimes between the second and third). Some patients have described the feeling of numbness, burning, stringing, or even compared it to walking on razor blades.
Treatment for Neuromas: What to Expect
Initially, conservative treatments may be attempted. Arch supports, foot pads, or orthotics may be used to help alleviate the pressure on the damaged nerve. Even wearing roomier, low-heeled shoes can help, since foot neuromas commonly result from wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight regularly. Since peripheral nerves have limited ability to regenerate, these methods may not cure or reverse the condition, but they can slow or stop the progression. They can also help manage symptoms, minimizing pain while standing, walking, or bearing weight. In some cases, steroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation as well.
If these treatments are insufficient, however, nerve surgery could be necessary to physically remove the injured tissue. This procedure is fairly straightforward and usually successful, although it may result in permanent numbness in the affected toes. An incision will be made above the neuroma on the top of the foot. The damaged nerve is then identified and removed, a process called neurectomy.
Recovery after Nerve Surgery
After the operation, we will dress the surgical site with gauze; this dressing stays in place until the first post-operative visit. At that time, the gauze is replaced. In the period immediately following the surgery, it is crucial to keep your foot dry to minimize the risk of infection, and you should spend as much time as possible with their feet elevated above the heart. Activity should be kept light; a post-operative shoe can be worn for limited walking.
After about two weeks following nerve surgery, the sutures are removed, and you can begin to bathe the affected area and start to wear normal walking shoes, provided they have stiff soles. By about three weeks after surgery, walking in shoes starts to become comfortable again.
Full recovery can take a month to six weeks. If your job requires limited standing and can be performed with your feet elevated, you may be able to return to work as soon as a week after surgery. If your job requires more strenuous physical activity, such as prolonged standing or climbing, you may require the full recovery period.
Neuromas can be very painful, so don’t wait to seek treatment. Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad, DPM are East Bay experts who can assess your situation and devise an appropriate treatment plan to help get you back on your feet. You can contact us at one of our three convenient Bay Area locations—San Leandro, Pleasanton, or Los Gatos, CA—for more information or to set up an appointment.