As a Houston podiatrist, I always like to keep on top of trends in treating foot pain. For quite some time now, researchers have been exploring the effectiveness of a treatment designed to help manage foot pain associated with plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma .
Plantar fasciitis is a type of heel pain that manifests when the plantar fascia (ligament that runs from your heel to your toes) becomes inflamed. Morton's neuroma is an enlarged nerve that usually occurs in the third interspace, between and just before your third and fourth toes. The reason the nerve enlarges isn't always obvious, but flat feet can cause the nerve to be pulled abnormally, causing irritation and enlargement.
While the causes of both conditions are quite different, there is one common treatment that may help both. And the treatment may be surprising to you: it’s Botox injections. I know it’s typically thought of as an anti-aging drug, used to correct wrinkles, but studies like this one seem to suggest it could help manage the pain of several common foot problems.
Wrinkle Free Feet? Nope! Just Pain Free!
In one study, scientists in Spain explored the potential benefits of treating Morton’s neuroma with Botox injections. Morton’s neuroma is a potentially crippling nerve problem located in the ball of the foot and toes; it can cause you to experience numbness, tingling, shooting pain, sharp pain, or cramping pain when you try to walk. In the Spanish study, researchers discovered that over 70% of patients had less pain after getting Botox injections in their feet, although about 20% said they experienced little or no improvement in their condition.
In another study, Botox was explored as a treatment for plantar fasciitis, a painful condition of the heel and arch in which you feel sharp, stabbing pain because of an inflammation of the plantar fascia. Researchers gave patients a Botox injection and then followed them for a year afterwards; most of the study members experienced a good amount of improvement in their comfort level after the injections.
A third study, published in Foot and Ankle International, compared steroid injections to Botox injections as a treatment for heel pain. In that study, researchers discovered that Botox is the superior treatment. Why? Steroid injections, in some cases, can cause your plantar fascia to rupture. Botox, on the other hand, carries no such risk, while offering similar forms of pain relief.
Thanks to these studies, Botox is beginning to emerge as another weapon in the arsenal of treatments for foot pain. And as an added bonus, it might even keep your feet looking smooth and wrinkle free.
Alternative Treatments for Neuroma and Heel Pain
Treatments commonly involve changing shoe gear, resting your feet, and using orthotics with metatarsal support to help take pressure off the area. In some cases, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication or injection therapy. Shockwave therapy has proven effective at treating pain from the Morton's Neuroma. If pain persists, however, surgery may be indicated.
Plantar fasciitis generally responds well to conservative, non-surgical treatment. These include stretching exercises, medications, padding and strapping, orthotic devices, injection therapy, night splints, and physical therapy. If conservative treatment fails, shockwave therapy can be used. This procedure aids in eliminating the inflammation of plantar fasciitis without an invasive surgery.
At Tanglewood Foot Specialists, I am willing to explore any legitimate treatment if it means leaving your feet pain free. If you are experiencing foot pain because of Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis or any other condition, make an appointment to see me today. I will do whatever is needed to manage your discomfort.