Morton’s Neuroma: Causes and Treatment

Do you know that infinitely irritating feeling when you get a small rock stuck in your shoe? Can you imagine having that feeling constantly? This is one of the main symptoms of a foot condition called Morton’s neuroma. Most likely, you’ve never heard of this disease. Many people are not familiar with foot disorders, which makes maintaining their podiatric health much more difficult. Austin foot doctor, Jeffery LaMour, is well versed in a variety of podiatric conditions, he can assist with virtually any ailment that might befall your feet. In this week’s blog, we’ll describe the basics of Morton’s neuroma so that you can learn more about your feet and find out what to do if you suffer from its symptoms.

A Quick History Lesson

Unfortunately, people have been suffering from Morton’s neuroma for centuries. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society explains: “Morton’s neuroma was first described by Queen Victoria’s surgeon chiropodist…in 1845.” It got its namesake in “Thomas G. Morton of Philadelphia” in 1876. While he correctly described the symptoms, he didn’t get the cause quite right. A fully accurate medical account of Morton’s neuroma came “in 1940, [when] L.O. Betts confirmed that Morton’s neuroma pain was attributed to the swelling of the interdigital [between the toes] nerve.”

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

This foot condition is characterized by a distinctive discomfort. Those who suffer from Morton’s neuroma experience a particular kind of pain between their third and fourth toes—often sharp, sometimes burning, occasionally numb, and, in many cases, the persistent feeling of a pebble in the shoe. This sensation may also spread throughout the ball of the foot or surrounding toes.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes the physical circumstances that create these symptoms: “a neuroma is a benign tumor of a nerve. Morton’s neuroma is not actually a tumor, but a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the digital nerve leading to the toes.” While it isn’t cancerous, and it usually doesn’t cause a visible lump, this growth can cause significant discomfort.

What Causes It?

While podiatrists are not completely sure, Morton’s neuroma appears to be caused largely by external factors. Mayo Clinic explains: “[the condition] seems to occur in response to irritation, pressure, or injury to one of the nerves that lead to your toes.” According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “the incidence of Morton’s neuroma is 8 to 10 times greater in women than in men.” In many cases, tight constricting footwear is the culprit for this condition. Ladies’ stilettos are often the source of their symptoms. Playing sports that put undue pressure on the toes can also cause Morton’s neuroma—Mayo Clinic highlights “snow skiing [and] rock climbing” as risky, but even more basic activities such as “jogging or running may subject your feet to repetitive trauma.” In addition, people suffering from other podiatric deformities (including “bunions, hammertoes, high arches, or flat feet”) may be more likely to suffer from Morton’s neuroma.

Treating Morton’s Neuroma

Austin foot doctor, Dr. LaMour, and our team will determine the appropriate course of action depending on the severity of your Morton’s neuroma and your specific situation. Depending on the circumstances, we may suggest:

  • Changing your footwear. It never hurts to go easy on your feet for a while and save the high heels for special occasions. You can also shop for smarter shoes that look great but have a wider toe so as not to hurt that interdigital nerve.
  • Reducing your participation in sports or activities that wear on your feet. We may recommend techniques to take pressure off of your toes while you continue to play.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications to provide short-term relief.
  • Icing your feet to numb the affected region.
  • Injected steroids, which can provide longer-lasting relief.
  • Surgery to modify the surrounding tissue or remove the affected nerve. Dr. LaMour will only take this approach for more severe cases.

Learn More From Your Austin Foot Doctor

Do you think you may be suffering from Morton’s neuroma? Would you like to discover more about your foot health? Contact Dr. LaMour’s office today to find out more or schedule an appointment.

Why is My Foot Tingling?

Have you ever felt your foot tingling? This seemingly strange symptom is actually quite common. In his article on this topic for Foot Vitals, Dr. Gregg Congdon explains: “an estimated 20 million Americans…suffer from tingling feet.” While not necessarily a painful sensation, tingling can be quite uncomfortable or disturbing, particularly if it becomes prolonged. Austin foot doctor, Dr. Jeffery LaMour, and the rest of our podiatry practice are here to help you with anything concerning your feet. We are available to answer your questions. In the following blog, we answer one of our patients’ most prevalent quandaries: “why is my foot tingling?”

Symptoms of Tingling

Clearly, the primary symptom in foot tingling is a prickling (and perhaps even stinging) sensation. However, as Dr. Congdon notes, “besides the pins-and-needles effect, there are other symptoms that can sometimes accompany tingling feet.” These include:

  • Numbness
  • Discomfort
  • Redness
  • Skin abnormalities in the feet
  • Trouble walking
  • Twitching in the muscles
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Fatigue
  • Itchiness in the feet
  • Disorientation
  • Bowel or bladder issues

Especially if accompanied by any of the above, contact our office if you experience foot tingling.

Common Causes

There are many potential sources of foot tingling, from mild to more severe. This trembling typically falls under the heading of “peripheral neuropathy,” or some degree of nerve damage in the outer regions of the body, such as the hands and feet.

  • Pressure on the nerves. Your foot could “fall asleep” and begin tingling simply because you sit on it the wrong way.
  • Toxic exposure. Tingling can be a side effect of certain drugs. It can also result from “industrial and environmental chemicals.”
  • Trauma. Accidents and injuries can cause nerve damage and therefore, tingling.
  • DiabetesWeb MD’s article on the topic reads: “diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, accounting for about 30 percent of cases.” Diabetes often leads to “nerve damage,” and, in fact, tingling may be “the first signs of diabetes.”
  • Poor circulation. Hereditary predispositions, artery function, nutritional issues, and other conditions can prevent blood from traveling properly throughout the body, which can cause tingling.
  • Insufficient vitamin intakeWeb MD reports: “vitamins E, B1, B6, B12, and niacin are essential for healthy nerve function,” and can lead to circumstances such as “anemia,” which can create tingling.
  • Congenital conditions. Certain hereditary issues can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
  • Unidentified. According to Web MD, “in…30 percent of peripheral neuropathy cases, the cause is unknown or ‘idiopathic.’”

Treatment Options

The remedy for foot tingling depends on the source of the sensation. For example, if your foot tingles because it’s simply “fallen asleep,” all you may need to do is move it around and the feeling should dissipate. However, if diabetes is the cause of your foot tingling, you may need to seek the advice of a specialist and get a more complex treatment plan. If you determine that a particular vitamin deficiency or nutritional issue is the cause of your symptoms, you may be able to change your diet to alleviate the discomfort. Dr. LaMour and our team can help you identify the source of your foot tingling and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. We provide a wide variety of foot and ankle services to assist you in any way we can.

Has Your Foot Been Tingling?

If you’ve been struggling with foot tingling, our podiatry office may be able to help. Given that there are so many causes of this condition, and that some of them are quite serious, it’s better to be safe than sorry.Contact Austin foot doctor, Dr. LaMour, today to learn more about our practice or to schedule a consultation.

5 Best Remedies for Ingrown Toenail Pain

Many people suffer from ingrown toenails. According to the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association, “ingrown toenails or other toenail problems” affect about 1 in 20 Americans. Depending on the severity of the situation, ingrown toenails can range from a nuisance to a serious medical concern. Austin podiatrist, Dr. Jeffery LaMour, is committed to helping our patients care for their feet, which includes having healthy toenails. If you realize you’re struggling with an ingrown toenail but can’t immediately get professional treatment, we don’t want you to wait in pain. Fortunately, there are many techniques you can use to alleviate the discomfort caused by this condition. In the following blog, we’ll explain how you can spot the symptoms of an ingrown toenail and the five best remedies for relieving the pain.

What is an Ingrown Toenail?

Simply put, an ingrown toenail is exactly what it sounds like. Ideally, your toenails would grow straight out, covering your nail bed and nothing more. However, sometimes, the toenail can begin to grow into the flesh around the nail bed, which can be quite uncomfortable. For example, if you trim your toenail too short, this “encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail,” as Foot Health Facts explains. Improper nail care is the most prevalent cause, but injury, undersized shoes, and fungal infections can also lead to ingrown toenails. In addition, some people have a hereditary disposition to this condition. If your toenails naturally curve more, you should take especially excellent care of your toenails.

You may be suffering from an ingrown toenail if:

  • You notice the toenail beginning to grow over the surrounding skin. You may not be able to see the edges of the nail on one or more sides.
  • You feel a sharp sensation as the toenail jabs into the skin.
  • The skin around one or more toenails feels particularly sensitive.
  • Your skin starts to swell around the toenail.
  • The tissue around your toenail is pink or red.
  • You notice pus, oozing, or other symptoms of infection in the skin around a toenail.

Recommended Remedies

You may not be able to run out to a podiatrist right away when you notice ingrown toenail symptoms. Dr. LaMour and our team suggest trying the following five methods to relieve pain:

1.     Bandage the affected toe. Depending on the size of the toenail, you can do so with a regular adhesive bandage or use sterile gauze. This remedy is simple but important, as it can help keep your sensitive skin clean and shield it against air, heat, and cold, which could worsen the pain.

2.     Do a warm salt soakWikiHow explains: “use a large bowl or your bathtub to soak your foot. This will help reduce swelling and tenderness… Add Epsom salts to the water. Epsom salts are widely recognized for their ability to reduce pain and swelling. These will also help soften the toenail.” If you can’t get Epsom salt, plain old table salt will also do the trick to “help reduce the growth of bacteria.” After you’ve soaked, make sure to dry your foot thoroughly, as moisture can invite bacteria.

3.     “Floss” your feet. It may seem a bit odd, but carefully working dental floss between the nail and the damaged skin can help them begin to grow apart and remove bacteria. However, you must be very gentle, as jamming floss into the area could allow further bacteria in, it could hurt, and could generally make matters worse. WikiHow recommends “flossing” the toenail after a salt soak, so “the toenail [is] softened” and somewhat sanitized.

4.     Use a topical antibiotic on the areaIn her Everyday Health article on treating ingrown toenails, Diana Rodriguez writes: “rub your toe with antibiotic ointment to help reduce your chance of developing an infection.”

5.     Wear flexible footwear. As Rodriguez notes: “shoes made of soft fabrics with a wide toe are a good choice – try wearing sandals if you can. Avoid shoes that pinch the toes or place pressure on the ingrown toenail.”

How Dr. LaMour Can Help

While these remedies can help keep you comfortable in the short-term, you shouldn’t wait more than a few days to seek treatment from a podiatrist like Dr. LaMour. Generally, the longer you delay getting professional assistance, the worse your ingrown toenail will become. Dr. LaMour and our team can quickly and easily handle this condition, especially since it is one of the most common issues we address in our practice.

In most cases, we’ll perform a basic outpatient procedure. Dr. LaMour will anesthetize the toe and then remove the abnormal section of the nail. We will then bandage your toe and explain how to care for it so it can heal rapidly. Often, our patients are back to normal the just one day after this treatment. If your ingrown toenail is due to a congenital or structural issue with your feet, we may recommend a different procedure in which we remove the root of the toenail so that it cannot become ingrown again.

Contact Your Austin Podiatrist Today

Are you suffering from an ingrown toenail? Would you like to learn more about our recommended remedies or schedule a treatment? Contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.

Which Is Your Dominant Foot?

Most people figure out fairly early on in their lives whether or not they’re right or left handed. They simply begin picking up their crayons with one little hand or another, and that’s that. In fact, there are many eccentricities about one’s dominant hand. According to the Mirror, “humans have been arguing about left and right for centuries.” While lefties seemed to have been more popular during the Stone Age, the vast majority of people prefer their right-hand today. However, those with dominant left hands are commonly thought to be more creative, inventive, and artistic.

You may have notions of what your dominant hand says about you, but which foot do you favor? This question can be a little more difficult to answer. At Austin foot doctor Dr. Jeffery LaMour’s podiatry practice, we can answer just about any question you have about your feet. In the following blog, we explain the science behind laterality and how you can determine which foot you favor.

The Science of Dominance

Why might someone use one side over the other? Scientific American provides a rather widely held hypothesis: “each person’s brain is divided into two sides – the left and right hemispheres. In some cases, one hemisphere may be more active than the other during a certain activity.” Due to the way our brains divvy up tasks, one side typically takes over. So, Scientific American explains: “when someone is processing language, one hemisphere is usually working harder than the other. There is also some correlation between the side(s) we use in our brain and the side we use on our body.” This is what creates “sidedness, laterality, or left/right dominance.”

In her Discover Magazine article “Picking Sides: How Genes Help Us Decide Between Left and Right,” Sharon Moalem expands on this concept: “each side of our brain has evolved for functional specialization,” which “allows us to perform multiple complex tasks.” She writes: “for our species, one of the most important tasks is communication, which is generally processed on the left side of the brain,” thus the popularity of right handedness.

Moalem also cites “Amar Klar, a senior investigator of the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute,” who asserts that there is “a direct genetic cause for handedness, perhaps even a single gene—a discovery we’ve thus far managed to miss as we’ve combed the human genome.” Genetically determined or not, it seems that our brains have a lot to do with side dominance.

Cultural norms can also play into this. Some believe that so many people are right handed simply because we assume that right is “right.” Of course, it’s also important to note that your dominant hand may not correspond to your dominant foot. Moalem notes: “you might think that footedness and handedness are always aligned, but as it turns out that’s not always the case…Lots of people aren’t congruent.”

Which Foot Do You Favor?

Ascertaining which foot is dominant is not an exact science. There are differing perspectives on how it might be done.

  • Moalem advocates for the “staircase” method: “imagine yourself at the bottom of a staircase that you’re about to ascend. Which foot moves first?” The one that takes the first step is most likely your favored one, she argues.
  • Scientific American provides a different tactic: “Place a coin on the floor directly in front of [you, and] step onto the coin.” Whichever foot you used is your preferred pad.
  • Science Kids offers another two tests: “1. Run forward and jump off one leg, which did you jump off? 2. Drop a ball on the ground and kick it, which foot did you use?”

After using one or more of these at-home experiments, you should be able to determine whether you’re right or left footed.

Take Care of Your Feet

No matter which foot is dominant, it’s important to make sure both are in good shape. You depend on them to walk, run, skip, dance, and generally get around. Austin foot doctor Dr. LaMour and our team offer a variety of services to help you care for every component of your feet, from your toenails to your tendons. If you have any other questions about your feet or want assistance with your podiatric health, contact us today.