A burning sensation, particularly in the ball of the foot, can quite often be associated with a neuroma. A neuroma is frequently referred to as a nerve tumor when in fact it is not truly a tumor by definition. Nerves are much like a telephone line and carry signals back and forth between the brain and the body. Like electric lines, the nerves are surrounded by a protective, insulating material. When a nerve becomes traumatized, the body responds by placing more protective tissue around the nerve resulting in enlargement. This nerve ‘tumor’ is a cause of an enlargement of the nerve but not because of pathological tissue growth.
Once the nerve has enlarged it may cause an abnormal signal to be transferred by the nerve. As a result a person may experience symptoms like as if there was a burning hot rock was placed in the ball of the foot that may cause the third and forth toes to feel numb or tingly.
Treatment will initially involve recommending shoes with a wider toe box to help decrease the irritation on the nerve. An anti-inflammatory like aspirin or ibuprofen is also recommended to help reduce the inflammation around the nerve. If these efforts are unsuccessful, a injection therapy may be helpful to reduce the inflammation and shrink the nerve to avoid surgery. Occasionally surgery may be indicated if conservative efforts fail. This is typically an outpatient or office procedure after which the patient can walk and return home the same day.