A neuroma is a painful condition, also referred to as a “pinched nerve” or a nerve tumor. It is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toes that brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.

The principal symptom associated with a neuroma is pain between the toes while walking. Those suffering from the condition often find relief by stopping their walk, taking off their shoe, and rubbing the affected area. At times, the patient will describe the pain as similar to having a stone in his or her shoe. The vast majority of people who develop neuromas are women.

How neuromas develop

Although the exact cause for this condition is unclear, a number of factors can contribute to the formation of a neuroma.

  • Biomechanical deformities, such as a high-arched foot or a flat foot, can lead to the formation of a neuroma. These foot types bring on instability around the toe joints, leading to the development of the condition.
  • Trauma can cause damage to the nerve, resulting in inflammation or swelling of the nerve.
  • Improper footwear that causes the toes to be squeezed together is problematic. Avoid high-heeled shoes higher than two inches. Shoes at this height can increase pressure on the forefoot area.
  • Repeated stress, common to many occupations, can create or aggravate a neuroma.


Surgery removes the inflamed and enlarged nerve and is done on an outpatient basis. Recovery is often just a few weeks.

Pre- and Post-operative

The answers to many of your pre- and post-operative questions are in the pre-operative handout that was given to you. Please take a moment and read through it.

Your first post-operative appointment will be 10 – 14 days after surgery. At that time, the dressing and sutures will be removed. You will be given a special shoe called an orthowedge or negative heel shoe, which allows you to walk, but places pressure on your heel rather than the toes.

You will be able to wear a stiff-soled sandal or shoe 6 – 8 weeks following surgery. Custom orthotics for your shoes may be prescribed. Swelling may take up to one year to completely subside. Please note that if surgery was on your right foot, you will not be able to drive until you are able to wear street shoes.

You will be able to participate in some exercise programs once the sutures are removed. In general, pleasure walking, swimming, elliptical, and stationary biking are acceptable. Tennis, running, and other forms of exercise that involve placing a large amount of pressure on the toes or sudden stops are not advised for at least 6 – 9 months post-op. Some positions required in yoga are not recommended.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist, please call our scheduling line.

Phone: 202-444-3668

Foot and Ankle Specialists

Paul S. Cooper, MD
Paul S. Cooper, MD
Francis X. McGuigan, MD
Francis X. McGuigan, MD