A plantar fibroma is a fibrous knot of tissue growth that can sometimes develop along the inside bottom surface of the foot. The non-malignant tissue builds up within the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that runs from heel to toes on the inside arch of the foot, and unless it is treated, it will not reduce in size or go away on its own.
Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fibromas
A plantar fibroma is visually noticeable as a lump in the arch of the affected foot. The lump will feel firm to the touch and it may or may not have pain associated with it. When pain is present, it can sometimes radiate from the lump to the toes. In most cases, pain is aggravated by pressure that’s applied to the lump by the patient’s shoes, but pain can also result from walking around barefoot as well.
How is a Plantar Fibroma Diagnosed?
A foot and ankle surgeon examines the foot and presses on the affected area. In some cases, an MRI or a biopsy may be ordered for further evaluation in order to help aid in the diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Plantar Fibromas
A plantar fibroma can usually be treated successfully with conservative treatments such as custom orthotic devices, physical therapy, topical medications, and steroid injections. While the tissue mass never truly disappears with non-surgical treatment methods, the pain can be effectively relieved using these measures.
Orthoses, often know as orthotics or custom-made arch supports, are inserts for your shoes that mechanically correct the foot, as well as support the deformed area, therefore reducing the discomfort. Orthotics usually last several years before your foot prescription may change. In the case of custom orthoses for fibromas, the orthoses are usually customized with special areas of padding to relieve the pressure on the painful fibromas.
When is Surgery Needed?
Should the mass continue to grow in size or the conservative treatments prove ineffective at relieving the patient’s pain, then surgical removal of the plantar fibroma may be required. Although surgical correction often relieves the problem, it can potentially lead to complications such as nerve entrapment, a painful scar, and recurrence of the problem. Additional fibromas can develop even after removal of any existing lesions.