A neuroma is a non-cancerous or benign growth that arises in nerve cells. This growth of nerve tissue can occur in various places in the body. Two common neuromas are acoustic neuroma, which occurs between the brain and inner ear, and Morton’s neuroma, which occurs near the toes.

An acoustic neuroma occurs in the eighth cranial nerve and affects hearing and balance. In most cases, it is a slow-growing tumor that does not invade nearby tissue. The exact cause is unknown. Acoustic neuroma is a type of brain tumor and belongs to a group called schwannomas, or tumors that start in Schwann cells. Schwann cells produce myelin that protects the acoustic or auditory nerve.

Acoustic neuromas account for approximately 7% of brain tumors. In general, these tumors can be removed surgically and do not usually recur. Radiation treatments are used in some cases to shrink the tumor or stop it from growing. Without treatment, most patients experience deafness. Risks of surgery include permanent numbness and weakness of the face.

Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma should be reported to a doctor and may include hearing loss, ringing in the ears, headache, numbness or weakness on one side of the face, and difficulty standing or walking due to unsteadiness or dizziness. Other possible symptoms are vision irregularities and problems understanding speech. Acoustic neuroma occurs more often in women than in men and affects mainly adults, with symptoms generally appearing in their 30s or older. Tests used to diagnose acoustic neuroma include hearing and nerve tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Morton’s neuroma is the thickening of the tissue around a nerve at the base of the toes. The main location is generally between the third and fourth toes. Symptoms include pain and a burning sensation in the affected area, numbness, and cramps.

A lump may develop at the base of the toes due to swelling and tumor growth. A burning pain can also occur in the ball of the foot. The condition can be the result of wearing high-heeled or too-tight shoes, high-impact exercise, or an injury. In some cases, there is no clear cause.

Morton’s neuroma patients experience sharp, burning pain when walking, especially on hard surfaces and when they are barefoot. Common home remedies include rest, massage, and roomy shoes. Some patients find relief with custom orthotics, such as arch supports or pads, and with anti-inflammatory medications and / or cortisone injections. Some cases require surgery. For any foot pain that lasts more than a few days, see your doctor. Immediate treatment can prevent surgery.