Did you know that approximately one in three people develops Morton’s neuroma during their life?
These frustrating growths often happen between the third and fourth toes and can be very uncomfortable, painful, and even debilitating. The great news is that scientists have developed extracorporeal shockwave therapy which has changed the treatment for this disease.
Wondering what makes a shockwave therapy device different?
If you are suffering from Morton’s neuroma symptoms, read on. We’ll take a deep dive into shockwave therapy and explain how it can alleviate your symptoms.
What Is a Morton’s Neuroma?
At its core, Morton’s neuroma is an orthopedic condition that is caused by a nerve that becomes inflamed.
Doctors categorize this problem as compressive neuropathy. Specifically, it creates a compression of the interdigital nerve on the plantar aspect of the foot. This nerve runs in the middle of the foot in between the base of the third and fourth toes.
The nerve can increase in size and begin to cause structural pain around the ball of the foot. Many patients who have Morton’s neuroma feel that there is a ball or a rolled-up sock right where they place weight when walking or running.
This creates pain that can radiate throughout the foot, usually out to the third and fourth toes. The pain can be dull but it is usually considered sharp or electric.
Most patients will report that walking or jogging or going up a set of stairs will make the pain worse. Usually, symptoms will improve once patients remove their shoes.
What Is Shockwave Therapy and How Is It Used for Morton’s Neuroma?
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy has been used for a variety of orthopedic and non-orthopedic conditions. The goal of shockwave therapy is to send repeated strong sound waves aimed directly at the injury. In many ways, the shock waves are like a highly powerful ultrasound, except the strength of the waves causes beneficial micro trauma.
This may sound dangerous or scary, but microtrauma is good because it causes activity in the region of interest which brings in more blood flow and materials to help the body respond to injury.
There have been many other diseases that have benefited from treatment with shockwave therapy. For example, shockwave therapy has been used by many doctors in treating plantar fasciitis, which is another disease of the foot. Many people who have had Morton’s neuroma have also had plantar fasciitis and will be familiar with this treatment.
What Are the Advantages of Shockwave Therapy for Morton’s Neuroma?
There are a variety of advantages to using shockwave therapy. Here are just a few:
Ultrasound soundwaves are extremely safe. Mothers will recognize soundwave therapy as an invaluable tool in obstetric settings. Whenever pregnant women go to visualize their baby for the first time, a doctor will use a high-powered ultrasound to give a high-resolution image of the child’s face and other body parts.
This is an extremely safe technology. We would not use it on developing fetuses if it was dangerous to the mother or baby. In the same way, using soundwaves aimed at the foot is extremely safe with no risk of complications.
Shockwave therapy has been studied in clinical settings for use with Morton’s neuroma. In these studies, it is effective in treating the condition in patients with a debilitating level of disease. Oftentimes, shockwave therapy is used to increase the available space for the neuroma to sit.
By releasing the space around the large nerve, the pain will decrease and may be acceptable to the patient. It may also be used as a bridge to other more definitive treatments.
As mentioned above, the safety profile of this treatment is very high. That is because it is a non-invasive treatment. Only soundwaves are transmitted in the form of vibrations. Compared to you having surgery and risking the complications of infections and anesthesia, shockwave therapy is a great alternative.
4. Unique Mechanism
No other treatment for Morton’s neuroma works quite in the same way. Other treatments are surgical that involve breaking the skin barrier to remove or excise the neuroma.
Additionally, cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation have been used. These other methods involve the death of certain cells, despite being noninvasive.
On the contrary, soundwave therapy is completely non-invasive and only generates micro-trauma using vibrations.
5. Proven Track Record
As mentioned above, shockwave therapy has been studied in clinical trials with a good track record of success. One recent study focused on 23 patients and saw the experimental group lower their pain scores throughout the study. While larger studies are needed, this is a good sign for patients who want to try out a new therapy.
Soundwave therapy often requires just a single visit for patients who are on the go. There will not be any postoperative recovery time and you’ll be able to get back to work right away.
For patients who don’t want to go under the knife, this is a good solution in the short term to make life more comfortable before determining a definitive course of action.
Deciding on Soundwave Therapy
At the end of the day, Morton’s neuroma is a challenging disease to treat. Often, definitive treatment requires skill in diagnosis and disease management. Patients who want to avoid surgery should consider soundwave therapy as an effective and safe option for the reduction of symptoms and pain. If you enjoyed this article about soundwave therapy, please check out the other articles on our blog!