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What Is a Neuroma Excision?

Wearing high-heeled shoes may cause Morton's neuroma.
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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
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A neuroma excision is the surgical removal of a swollen nerve, or neuroma, usually located in the ball of the foot between the webbing of the toes. The developing neuroma can put pressure on the surrounding nerves in the foot causing sharp, shooting pains when walking or standing. Treatment usually begins with corticosteroid injections into the painful area to reduce the size of the neuroma. If the neuroma continues to increase in size or cause pain after the injection therapy, the physician may recommend a neuroma excision to surgically remove it.

The surgery for neuroma excision is usually performed in an outpatient setting. First, the affected nerve is located through a small surgical incision in the skin. Next, the edges of the incision are pulled back with a small retractor, and the neuroma is carefully removed from the foot. The wound is then closed with absorbable sutures and will need to remain wrapped for a period of about two weeks. Most patients report an absence of pain for at least five years after the neuroma excision.

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Neuromas can be caused by any trauma to the nerves, such as surgery or accidental injury. The injured nerve swells in response to the damage. The pressure from the increased size of the nerve is what causes the pain inside the foot. Improperly fitting shoes, for example, can cause the bones of the feet to rub together, irritating the surrounding nerves and causing swelling of the nerve tissue. A podiatrist may suggest orthopedic shoes to relieve the pressure on the nerves, which may alleviate the need for a neuroma excision surgery.

Morton’s neuroma is the common name of the neuroma that forms between the metatarsals of the third and fourth toes. This type of neuroma is most often diagnosed in middle-aged women, possibly due to years of wearing high-heeled shoes. The unnatural angle of the shoe compresses the bones of the feet, causing extreme irritation to the nerves. The nerves become inflamed as a result, putting more pressure on the surrounding nerves and compounding the pain.

Some sports, such as running or jogging, can cause repetitive injuries to the nerves of the foot, causing a Morton’s neuroma to form. Investing in properly fitting shoes with good arch support can provide the cushioning necessary to prevent the formation of neuromas. Engaging in a variety of exercise and sports activities may reduce the daily stressors on delicate nerve tissues, reducing the need for surgical intervention.

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