A common cause of pain between the toes while walking is a neuroma. Neuromas are caused by a small growth of nerve tissue and are otherwise known as a pinched nerve or nerve tumor. The most commonly affected nerve is found between the third and fourth toes. The symptoms of a neuroma are a burning sensation, tingling and numbness, or swelling between the toes and in the ball of the foot. Those suffering from the condition often find relief by stopping their walk, taking off their shoe, and rubbing the affected area. Another common feeling during walking is that of a stone beneath the foot.
The exact cause of a neuroma is unclear but foot structure such as high-arched or flat foot can lead to the formation of a neuroma. This is because the nerve runs close to the bones of the foot. When the nerve rubs against the bone, it becomes irritated, inflamed and painful.
Treatment options vary with the severity of each neuroma. Wearing shoes with plenty of room for the toes to move that allow for width adjustment, are great for preventing and managing a neuroma. Resting the foot and massaging the affected area can temporarily alleviate pain. Icing the area can help dull the pain and improve comfort. For more severe conditions, injections or surgery may be needed. It is important to see a podiatrist at the first sign of pain or discomfort. Untreated neuromas tend to get worse and it is important to prevent the nerve from enlarging. The primary goal of podiatric treatment is to relieve pressure on the nerve. This can be done through padding, medication, or orthotics. Depending on the extent of damage, a podiatrist is trained to provide adequate therapy to prevent surgery.