Feel like you have a pebble in your shoe? This might be why

Last Modified: 4/05/2022


This post was written by Ashley M. Bojrab, DPM, FACFAS, ABPM, CWS, PPG – Podiatry.  

Have you ever had a feeling like you were walking on a bunched-up sock, only to discover the sock was on right? Or maybe you felt like there was a pebble in your shoe, but there wasn’t? These are typical symptoms of an enlarged nerve in between the bones of the foot, known as a neuroma. 


We most commonly see neuromas between the third and fourth toes. In addition to the sensations of a bunched-up sock or pebble in the shoe, other possible symptoms include numbness, burning and tingling.


Ill-fitted shoes, such as tight shoes or high heeled shoes, can lead to a neuroma. Switching to a properly fitted shoe or a wider toe box with support or even an orthotic can offer relief from the discomfort of the condition.


It’s important to see a podiatrist if the symptoms are not improving and/or progressively getting worse. Your provider might need to order an x-ray, ultrasound or even an MRI to obtain the most accurate diagnosis.

If a patient can’t achieve relief by changing their shoe gear and using orthotics and padding, then steroid injection or surgery might be necessary. Surgery does not come without risks. The surgical option can lead to infection, swelling, deformity of the toes, numbness to the toes for the rest of your life and, in the case of severe infection, amputation. This is why it’s important to listen to your body and not struggle through it. Reach out to your podiatrist at the first signs of discomfort and be proactive with your care.  


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