Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that impacts the nerves in the foot, specifically the area between the third and fourth toes. When the nerve gets irritated the nerve, scar tissue develops creating the actual “neuroma”.
What is a Neuroma of the Foot?
This can become painful and gets “caught” between the metatarsal heads and creating nerve pain that can have many symptoms. , it can be extremely uncomfortable. The pain and discomfort can make it difficult to walk or perform everyday tasks.
The good news is that there's no reason to suffer from foot pain silently, as there are many treatment options that can provide you with some much-needed relief. One such treatment is using alcohol sclerosing injections to tackle the issue at the source. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol sclerosing injections, what the treatment involves, and whether it's the right choice for you.
What is Morton's Neuroma?
Morton's neuroma, also known as an intermetatarsal neuroma, refers to the thickening of the tissue around the nerve that leads to the toes and typically occurs at the ball of the foot between the metatarsal heads. Although the cause of Morton's neuroma is not fully understood, it's commonly associated with irritation, pressure, or compression of the nerve in the foot. Many people have a thin fat padding area under the ball of the foot and since the nerve needs some fat for cushioning and protection, if that is missing the nerve is venerable and exposed to become almost “bruised”.
Morton's Neuroma Causes & Signs
The most common symptom of Morton's neuroma is a sharp, shooting, or burning pain or a strange sensation of feeling as though you have a stone in your shoe. Other symptoms may include tingling, numbness, or pins and needles in the affected area. Certain factors may contribute to the development of Morton's neuroma, such as wearing tight or high-heeled shoes that squeeze the toes together, foot deformities such as bunions or hammertoes, repetitive stress on the foot, and certain activities, such as running or sports, that put pressure on the foot.
What is an Alcohol Sclerosing Injection?
An alcohol sclerosing injection, also known as sclerotherapy or ethanol ablation, is a medical procedure that involves injecting a concentrated alcohol solution directly into the area surrounding the actual nerve in between the metatarsals. The purpose of the injection is to damage the targeted nerve by affecting the portion of the nerve that carries pain called the “C” fiber.
When the treatments are complete the nerve pain is relieved and subsequently resolves the underlying problem. Alcohol sclerosing injections combined with expert podiatric knowledge can be used to treat varicose veins and certain types of vascular malformations. Dr. Schoene and Dr. Bevers’ practice has been utilizing alcohol injections for over 15 years and have found this treatment to be a very reliable treatment for Morton's neuroma.
How Does an Alcohol Sclerosing Injection Work?
During the procedure, our Chicago foot specialists identify the specific nerve and the injection is performed in just a few seconds very easily in the office. The injection is performed with a very thin needle inserted into the target area and inject the alcohol solution directly into the Morton's neuroma. The alcohol causes irritation and inflammation of the nerve, vessel, or tissue, leading to scarring, and it eventually closes over time.
By closing off the affected vessel or tissue, alcohol sclerosing injections can help alleviate symptoms and allow patients to be pain-free. Alcohol sclerosing injections often prevent the pain from returning, which can promote better overall health as the patient can resume their athletic activities. The procedure is generally considered safe and minimally invasive and is typically performed right at the office.
Can Alcohol Sclerosing Injections Help Treat Morton's Neuroma?
Conservative measures, such as wearing comfortable shoes, using orthotic devices, cortisone injections, and sometimes reducing high-impact activities are often the first line of treatment for Morton's neuroma. If these measures fail to provide relief, the use of alcohol sclerosing injections is a promising treatment option. These injections specifically target the underlying histological changes that occur in intermetatarsal neuromas.
When you inject ethanol around a nerve, this produces chemical neurolysis that damages the nerve by dehydrating it and causing cell death. Precipitating solid substances within the cells leads to the breakdown or degeneration of the nerves, which can provide relief for those suffering from Morton's neuroma.
Alcohol Sclerosing Injections vs. Surgery for Morton's Neuroma
Alcohol sclerosing injections offer a much less invasive alternative to surgery with comparable results. These injections provide mobility back into the foot, and many patients are able to put weight on the affected area and get back to their usual activities as soon as the day after treatment.
It's key to note that alcohol sclerosing injections are not an overnight cure. It may take multiple injections to fully alleviate the symptoms of Morton's neuroma and reduce the risk of it coming back. However, maintenance therapy, such as being particularly careful of the shoes you wear, is essential. If treatment fails, surgical excision remains an option. If you're considering alcohol sclerosing injections as a treatment option please come in to see us at Gurnee Podiatry and Sports Medicine Associates in Chicago and Gurnee, IL to get personalized advice to ensure it's the right treatment option for your case.
Although most patients have no pain, some patients report localized discomfort, mild pain, or redness in the foot, which usually goes away on its own within a few days after the procedure. Make sure that you rest for at least 24 hours after the treatment to reduce discomfort and promote healing. You can apply ice packs to the foot every two hours to resolve any pain or swelling. Alternatively, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or analgesics if ice packs alone don't resolve the pain.
Should You Use Alcohol Sclerosing Injections for Morton's Neuroma?
When treating Morton's neuroma, it's important to take a dynamic approach that tackles the issue from multiple angles. Using alcohol sclerosing injections can make a real difference but only as part of a long-term maintenance plan that involves appropriate footwear.
Alcohol Sclerosing Injections in Chicago, IL
It's essential you get expert advice on the best treatment option for you. We can assess your case and determine if alcohol sclerosing injections are a suitable treatment option, considering factors such as the nature and location of the condition, your overall health, and the potential risks and benefits. Contact us today to book an appointment.