Female Runners at Risk for Painful Neuromas

3 min read

More and more women are being diagnosed with neuromas. The condition has become more frequent in women runners presumably because this painful nerve disorder is triggered by their use of pointed-toed and narrow work shoes and the abuse their feet experience when running, especially on hard surfaces.

What Is It

The most common type of neuroma is the Morton’s. This condition can develop in various areas of the feet, but more prominently observed at your third and fourth toes’ base. During its early stages there can be inflammation and pain brought about by the pressure exerted on the nerves between the 3rd & 4th toes.

In more severe cases the pressure can be so extreme that the sensation to the area of the toes is lost, and the services of a surgeon becomes necessary.

High heels or narrow shoes usually compress the toes leading to irritation and eventual swelling and thickening of the nerves. Usually, neuroma has been associated with sports activities like running and other sports where stress on the forefoot is experienced repetitively.

As the condition continues to progress there is a possibility that consistent tingling, numbness, and burning pain would be experienced at the base area of your toes.

Why Women

Although not confined only to women, the continuous use of pointed, narrow, high-heeled shoes to work combined with an active lifestyle (like frequent running for example) contributes to the development of neuromas.

This is presumably because this combination creates extreme stress on the feet that when left unattended allows the condition to worsen progressively.

Morton’s more specifically has been found to happen more to women as compared to men. This is because although men’s shoes may be pointed and narrow, they are not as narrow and pointed as those worn by women.

The high heels that tilts the foot down further into the narrow tips of the shoes of women creates a squeezing action that aggravates the pinching of the nerves that can lead to neuroma.

On the average, the ratio of women-to-men who suffer from Morton’s neuroma can be anywhere from 5:1 and go as high as 10:1.

The condition is not isolated to middle aged women who wear narrow and pointed high-heeled shoes more often. Women can get them as early as 15 years old.

Symptoms and Fixes

One of the challenges with neuromas is the lack of outward signs that signal its presence. Women runners seem most susceptible leaving them victims of the condition any time during their run.

There have been times when the shooting pain associated with neuromas has been experienced during normal walking. Some of the more common symptoms women runners can experience are:

  • Numbness in the foot;
  • Burning sensation at the balls of the feet;
  • Pain that extends from ball of the foot and reaches the toes;
  • Intense pain when doing activities that require shoes;
  • Occasional tingling in the toes resulting in discomfort;
  • Pain starting from the outer side of the third toe moving towards the inner side of the fourth toe or vice versa; and
  • Sudden pain when leaving the starting blocks of running sports.

Once the pain begins to flare up, it can be difficult to deal with Morton’s neuroma. Some quick fixes to minimize the pain can include:

  • Extensive warm-up routines before engaging in athletics;
  • Minimising activities that can aggravate the pain;
  • Do regular stretching and strengthening exercises for your feet;
  • Keep your weight in check and within healthy levels;
  • Take ample rest in between physical activities to allow your body to recover;
  • Use proper socks with your shoes to achieve an ideal fit;
  • Avoid tightly lacing the forefront area of your shoes; and
  • Invest in the proper shoes relative to the sports you do and preferably buy one that has a wide toe box.
  • Wearing an arch support with a metatarsal pad aimed at supporting the area behind the neuroma, when combined with a well fitted shoe (as above), can also help to minimse discomfort.

Call into your nearest Foot Solutions UK store to see how we can help with Morton’s Neuroma.