If you have ever stepped on sharp stones in bare feet, you’ve experienced the pain thousands of people with plantar fibromas live with every day. Walking, running, or even standing can cause acute pain in the bottoms of the feet, severely inhibiting a sufferer’s mobility. If this sounds familiar, you should seek an evaluation from our podiatry team as soon as possible.
What Are Plantar Fibromas?
Plantar fibromas are non-cancerous tumors on the plantar fascia, the band of connective tissue along the bottom of the foot. They develop slowly over time, but untreated tumors may grow into solid nodules up to an inch in size. Most patients will develop a single nodule, but some people will experience multiple benign tumors.
As the foot bears the weight of the body, the tumor presses into the sole of foot, causing discomfort and affecting a person’s gait and balance. Although they are not life-threatening, plantar fibromas can be intensely uncomfortable and make it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle.
While there is no direct cause of plantar fibromas, they have been linked to a number of factors, including:
- Genetics. If plantar fibromas run in your family, you may be more likely to suffer from the condition.
- Health conditions. Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid problems, and chronic liver disease are at higher risk of developing plantar fibromas.
- Injuries. Small tears in the fascia and heavy trauma to the feet (such as sprains or fractures) may contribute to the growth of nodules.
- Age. Older patients are more likely to develop plantar fibromas than younger patients.
Will I Need Treatment?
Plantar fibromas do not get better on their own, but require treatment to shrink the nodules and relieve the discomfort as they heal. While each patient’s course of treatment will vary, plantar fibroma relief often includes:
- Diagnosis. It’s important to have a fibroma diagnosed to rule out other possible conditions, such as cysts, granulomas, infections, or cancers. Confirmation of plantar fibroma may be done using imaging tests (X-rays or MRIs), but some doctors prefer to perform a biopsy to ensure the nodule is not malignant.
- Topical medications. There are a number of ointments and gels that help to slow or reverse the growth of nodules. These are most effective in conjunction with other therapies.
- Orthotics. Shoe choices and foot biomechanics may be placing unnecessary strain on the nodule. Our podiatrists can examine your footwear and gait to determine the benefits of custom orthotics. Arch supports, heel lifts, and padded insoles can provide extra cushioning and help relieve the pressure on the plantar fascia.
- Steroid injections. Corticosteroids are medications to ease inflammation, and can be directly injected into the tumor. These injections may help ease the pain, but do not typically have an effect on the size of the nodule.
- Physical therapy. Stretching, movement, and strength training can all help break down and rebuild tissues in the feet. The right physical therapy routine can increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation, helping your body repair and replace damaged cells.
- Surgery. If conservative methods do not shrink the nodules, patients may opt for surgical removal of the mass. This is usually only done as a last resort, since the procedure could stretch the ligament and flatten the arch of the foot. Even if surgery is successful, patients can suffer a recurrence fibromas and will need to monitor their soles for signs of regrowth. Recovery from the procedure can take anywhere from six weeks to over two months.
If you’re tired of living with a painful foot condition, the podiatry specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help you get the relief you’ve been looking for. We offer free initial consultations to diagnose your condition and create a personalized treatment plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to get started.