Think You’ve Got a Pebble in Your Shoe? Think Again.

Our two feet are constantly supplying us with information about where we’re walking. They feel if the ceramic tile in the kitchen is cold, how hot the beach sand is, and whether the rock we’re climbing over is smooth enough to make us slip and fall. For this, we owe a debt to our plantar nerves.

Nerves are those structures that are responsible for what we’re able to feel or sense. They’re located all over our body, but our feet contain a lot– the most nerve endings per square centimeter of any structure in the body.

Nerves can act up

It’s a pretty common thing for nerves in our feet – plantar nerves – to become irritated. When that happens, we call it a neuroma or, more specifically Morton’s neuroma. Morton’s neuroma affects the nerves that run into the toes, most commonly between the 3rdand 4thtoes. It’s also seen frequently between the 2ndand 3rdtoes.

There are a number of things that can cause a nerve to become irritated:

  • pressure on the toes from shoes that don’t fit well
  • narrow-toed shoes
  • frequent wearing of high heels.

When irritated, the tissue surrounding a nerve can build up and form a benign tumor. Our patients tell us that it feels like there’s something inside the ball of their foot that they just want to reach in and pull out – like they’re constantly walking on a marble or with a pebble in their shoe. But it’s not a pebble they feel – it’s that ball of inflamed nerve. A neuroma causes the ball of your foot to become swollen and tender. You may feel tingling, burning, or numbness in the toes.

How to calm down an inflamed nerve

Treatment for a neuroma may be as simple as rest or as complicated as surgery. Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey of Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland will attempt conservative treatment first such as rest or a change to less restrictive shoes. Corticosteroid injections can also calm down the inflamed nerve. If none of these treatments work, you may be a candidate for surgery.

We encourage anyone with persistent ball-of-foot pain or tingling to discuss your options with our Cuyahoga County podiatry experts. Call us at our office in Solon, Ohio at (440) 903-1041 or make an appointment online.