Summer 2019-21 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: I have plantar fibroma lump in my foot, which is impeding my walking. I would like to know what are the treatment options, including both the natural therapy and allopathic (medical) approaches?
I also have Dupuytrens contracture in my hands?
This is basically a mass of fibrous tissue which has developed in the arch of the foot. Fortunately, it is benign.
Plantar fibromas affect males more often than females and tend to occur in people of middle age or older.
Occasionally, several fibromas develop, called plantar fibromatosis.
The lump (fibroma) in the arch of the foot is slow-growing and typically measures less than around 2 cm in size. The lump may initially cause little to no pain, but larger lumps are often painful. The pain increases when wearing tight shoes, standing for long periods or walking barefoot.
If a fibroma grows very large, it can affect the shape of the arch, leading to difficulty in standing or walking.
In medical circles, the cause of plantar fibroma is not known. However, physical injury to the foot may be a factor, and repetitive foot injuries can lead to tearing of the fascia in the arch, which encourages the growth of fibromas.
Several medical conditions are believed to contribute to the development of a plantar fibroma. They include chronic liver disease, diabetes, epilepsy and long-term alcohol abuse.
Some medications and supplements also increase the tendency for a fibroma to develop: anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin; beta-blockers for high blood pressure; glucosamine and chondroitin and large doses of vitamin C.
Plantar fibroma can be diagnosed by a doctor, who will press on the fibroma and surrounding area, check for pain and assess your ability to stand and walk comfortably.
The doctor may order further tests, including an X-ray and/or an MRI scan to rule out other foot conditions.
A biopsy is not usually required, unless the scans indicate that the fibroma may be cancerous.
With professional guidance:
The aim is to relieve pain and reduce the size of the lump. A small fibroma may not require any treatment.
For larger or painful fibromas, there is a range of possible treatments:
A topical gel. This is intended to arrest the growth of the lipoma.
Orthotic insoles and pads. These can ease pain by redistributing bodyweight over the foot to reduce pressure on the arch and fibroma.
Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises may help by increasing circulation to the foot and reducing inflammation.
Corticosteroid drugs. These are injected into the fibroma and may reduce pain and inflammation. This is a temporary solution because the fibroma can keep growing.
Surgery. This is a last resort, but may be justified if a fibrous mass continues to grow or causes increasing pain and discomfort. However, re-growth of the fibroma is possible and there is a risk of other conditions developing, such as flat foot and hammertoe.
Ice. Applying an ice pack to the foot can lessen pain and swelling. Wrap ice cubes in a layer of old towel and place on the arch of the foot for up to 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment several times daily or as needed.
Elevation. Raise the affected foot above heart level. An easy way to do this is to lie down and prop up the affected foot on pillows.
Whether a plantar fibroma will bother you depends on its size, if more than one nodule is present, the level of pain and if walking is difficult and painful.
If the fibroma is small, there may be no symptoms at all. If it is large, there may be persistent pain and difficulty walking.
Fibromas will not disappear without treatment. As above, there are numerous treatment options, some medical and some natural therapies. After successful treatment, recurrence is rare.