A Morton’s neuroma is a very common (and very frustrating!) source of forefoot pain and discomfort. In this condition, nerve tissue between your toes swells and thickens. You might not be able to see it or even feel it from the outside, but tight tendons and body weight can push that swollen tissue painfully into the nerve, making you feel like you’re standing on a sharp pebble.
Neuroma treatment options include everything from soft orthotics to surgical decompression or excision of the nerve. However, there’s another minimally invasive treatment out there offering great results—alcohol injections.
Yes, you heard that correctly. Sounds crazy, right? But here’s why you might want to consider it.
Alcohol is a very effective chemical when it comes to desensitizing a nerve to pain, as well as reducing the size of a neuroma. A highly alcoholic solution—say 40% or above—would likely kill a nerve and could risk damage to other structures. But a lower dosage (5% to 15%) mixed with a long-acting local anesthetic can in some cases provide years (yes, years) of pain relief. That makes it a superior choice when compared with cortisone injections, which are better suited to short-term rather than long-term pain relief.
To provide maximum safety and effectiveness, we use our ultrasound machine to pinpoint the exact location of the neuroma and nerve. That way, we can guide the injection right where it needs to go, so that it will adhere to the neuroma without any leaking or damaging any neighboring tissues or structures.
A typical treatment course involves a series of about four or five injections spaced out over several weeks. And the results have been incredible. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology found that over 90% of patients who underwent treatment experienced partial or total symptom improvement, with more than 80% reporting that their pain had been totally relieved. In 101 total cases, no serious side effects were reported.
In other words, in terms of pain relief, ultrasound-guided alcohol injections provide results that are comparable to surgery—if not better. It does this without any of the major risks and drawbacks associated with surgery, including longer recovery times, higher risk of accidental nerve damage or infections, scarring, and more. And in the rare cases where it doesn’t work, surgery always remains an option.
If you’re sick of feeling like you’re standing on a pebble, give Sierra Foot & Ankle a call today at (775) 783-8037 for an evaluation and review of your treatment options. We have offices in Carson City and Gardnerville for your convenience.