People tend to take most of our healthy body parts for granted until they are in pain or a body part is no longer useful. Feet definitely belong in that category. One painful foot issue that is impossible to ignore is called neuroma, sometimes referred to as Morton's neuroma, a pinched nerve, or a nerve tumor. This is a painful issue that arises when the nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes develops an unusual growth. Though the growth or "tumor" is benign, it can cause a lot of discomfort including burning sensations, tingling or numbness in the toes, a persistent sensation that you have a pebble in your shoe.
While podiatrists aren't sure exactly what causes neuroma, it's typically a result of mashing or stretching the nerve. Here are a few aggravating factors.
One of the chief aggravating factors of neuroma is bad shoes, particularly shoes that shift the bones into odd positions and pinch the toes or put pressure on the balls of your feet. If you constantly wear shoes that are just a bit too small, this can create both situations. Additionally, even shoes that fit but are poorly designed may cause pressure to the ball of the foot as well as pinching in the toes, like high heels. For this reason, it can't be purely coincidental that neuroma is vastly more common in women than men. Women are eight to ten times more likely to develop neuroma.
People who participate heavily in sports are also more likely to develop neuroma, especially if the sport is high-impact and involves a heavy amount of running or jogging. These sports require constant repetitive pressure on the nerves of the feet and are therefore responsible for mashing and stretching the nerve in between the third and fourth toes. But sports that require tight footwear can also have the same effect, activities like skiing, snowshoeing, or rock climbing.
It typically requires repetitive stress on a normal foot through sports or bad footwear to develop neuroma. But if your foot already has issues or deformities, these aggravating factors are even more likely to cause neuroma. People with flat feet, high arches, bunions, or hammertoe are at much higher risk. That's because these issues tend to aggravate that all-important nerve. If you have foot deformities and feel the symptoms of neuroma, you should make an appointment with a podiatrist.