What is a Plantar Fibroma?
A plantar fibroma is a benign fibrous lump that may develop in the plantar fascia, the tissue under the foot that extends across the arch. It can develop in one or both feet.
Causes of Plantar Fibromas
The cause of a plantar fibroma is not known, but factors that may influence its growth include:
- Physical trauma to the foot
- Medical conditions such as chronic liver disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and long-term alcohol abuse
- Some medications and supplements such as anti-seizure medications, beta-blockers, glucosamine and chondroitin, and vitamin C
Symptoms of Plantar Fibromas
The initial symptom of a plantar fibroma is a noticeable lump in the arch of the foot. The size of the lump may increase over time. Pain associated with these lumps can vary from person to person; however, the larger lumps are often painful.
The pain may get worse when:
- Applying pressure to the lump
- Walking barefoot
- Standing for long periods
- Wearing restrictive shoes
Plantar fibromas do not usually heal on their own and may need treatment to relieve symptoms. Rarely, a severe condition can develop with multiple and enlarged fibromas called plantar fibromatosis.
Diagnosis of Plantar Fibromas
Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your feet and assess the amount of pain and discomfort you have.
Tests which may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions include:
- MRI scan
- Bone scan (if the tumor has spread to the bone)
Treatment of Plantar Fibromas
Treatment may not be necessary for minor or painless forms of plantar fibromas.
Treatment options for larger forms of fibromas which cause pain and discomfort include:
- Steroid injections: This involves injecting corticosteroid medication into the lump to relieve inflammation and pain thus shrinking the lump and reducing discomfort.
- Topical gel: A topical gel may be recommended that stops the growth of the fibrosis tissue.
- Orthotic devices: Orthotic devices (shoe inserts) can help by distributing the weight away and reducing pressure on the area with the fibroma.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to stretch and strengthen the tissues and promote circulation. This helps reduce inflammation, prevents tissue accumulation, and encourages the growth of new cells.
- Surgical treatment: Surgery may be necessary in some cases, particularly if the fibrous mass continues to grow in size or causes increasing pain and discomfort. However, surgery may cause weakness in the tissue supporting the arch leading to collapse.