Nail & Skin Disorders

What Are Neuromas?

When the weight of the body lands on a swollen nerve, it can be debilitating. Learn the symptoms and alert clients to this common problem that develops in the nerves of the foot.

It’s at this point that the doctor would likely order an MRI to learn the size of the neuroma and to confirm the need for surgery. During surgery, “a one-inch incision is made on the top of the foot and the Morton’s neuroma is removed,” says Watkins. “Patients are often back in shoes within two weeks.” Patients who undergo surgery for Morton’s neuroma have a high rate of success. Many are able to return to their old activities and exercise routines, such as running. However, says Watkins, he advises women to refrain from going back to high-heeled shoes that pinch the foot.  

What’s a Tech to Do?

Pedicures pose no threat to a client with a neuroma, and the service may actually relieve some pain during the massage portion, though if the condition is too advanced or the area is sensitive, a massage could increase pain. Take your cue from your client on what helps relieve her pain and how much pressure to apply.

Take every opportunity to educate a client, but never offer medical advice. If you suspect a client has a neuroma, share what you know about neuromas in general. She may want to try icing the area, changing to wider shoes with no heels, or alternating an exercise routine. If she notices relief, then it’s a good indication that the nerve is being aggravated during those activities, and she’ll need to make adjustments accordingly. If she returns to her routine after the pain subsides only to have the pain flare back up, suggest she see a doctor immediately.

Though you won’t be able to determine if a client has a neuroma, you can learn the symptoms so you know when to suggest the client visit her doctor. Watkins says two complaints are fairly common among all patients. First, there is a burning pain that radiates from under the foot down to the toe, and second, it feels like something is under the foot, such as a wrinkled sock or a fold in the material of the shoe.

Because so many pedicure clients fit the profile of the ideal candidate to develop Morton’s neuroma, techs can take a proactive posture by posting educational material in the pedicure area. Let clients know before they even develop pain that the shoes they choose could put them at risk for certain conditions, such as not only Morton’s neuroma, but also bunions and ingrown toenails.


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