Cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy, is a modern form of treatment for Morton’s neuroma. The treatment offers patients a minimally invasive, clinic-based procedure with a high success rate and virtually no risk of stump neuroma.
Cryosurgery uses extremely cold temperatures in order to selectively destroy neuroma tissue. The aim of this procedure is to shrink tissue and to disrupt the blood supply to abnormal tissue. The technique originates from the USA and is classified by American health insurance companies as an injection based technique. Cryosurgery is currently used to treat a wide variety of cancerous and non-cancerous tumours.
For further information on uses of cryosurgery for treatment of tumours, please see the National Cancer Institute’s page on cryotherapy.
Cryosurgery for Morton’s neuroma
What is Cryosurgery / Cryotherapy?
Cryosurgery involves the use of a cryoprobe which at it’s tip forms an 6-10mm ice ball that reaches temperatures as low as -50°C. The cryoprobe tip destroys nerve tissue by causing extensive vascular damage to the nerve sheath capillaries. This then causes demyelinazation (breakdown of the myelin sheath) and degeneration of the axon.
An important feature of cryosurgery treatment to appreciate is that the essential aspects of the nerve, the epineurium and the perinerium, remain intact therefore preventing the possibility of formation of a stump neuroma on the foot.
There are approximately 140 Podiatrists using cryosurgery for Morton’s neuroma. Over the last nine to ten years more than 50,000 cryosurgery procedures have been performed collectively, with success rates ranging from 80-97%.
Advantages of Cryosurgery for Morton’s Neuroma:
Compared to conventional surgery, cryosurgery has a number of distinct advantages:
The procedure is performed in the clinic setting, not in hospital.
No stitches are required following cryosurgery.
There is a short treatment protocol for cryosurgery.
There is no need for opiate based analgesics after treatment.
There is no post-operative neuritis or neuralgia pain.
After cryosurgery patients can walk out of the clinic with their own shoes on as opposed to a surgical post-operative boot.
There is little to no immediate post cryosurgery treatment neuroma pain and only mild bruising in the forefoot lasting 4-5 days.
Patients are able to return to work usually within 24-48 hours of having cryosurgery, wearing only a plaster over the puncture site.
Cryosurgery has a high success rate and wide patient acceptance.
An almost non-existent risk of stump neuroma formation in the foot following cryosurgery.
The majority of Morton’s Neuroma patients obtain complete pain relief, or significant improvement, immediately following cryosurgery treatment. The cryosurgery denatures the nerve sheath (Morton’s neuroma are contained within the nerve sheath). Following cryosurgery the nerve regenerates at between 1-3 millimetres per day; therefore the axon regeneration should be complete within several weeks. It appears the long lasting pain relief is due to the reduction of neural oedema and nerve sheath fibrosis of the Morton’s Neuroma.
Similar long-term relief has also been reported with the use of cryosurgery in the treatment of painful trigeminal nerve pathology and plantar fasciitis.
Are There Any Complications Associated with Cryotherapy?
Cryosurgery has a very low incidence of complications associated with treatment. Infections are rare, as is abscess formation at the puncture site. All Morton’s Neuroma patients who have had cryogenic neuroablation (cryosurgery) have maintained full motor function with no greater loss of sensation than they had prior to the procedure. If patients are unlucky enough to experience a return of Morton’s Neuroma symptoms at the one or two year point, the cryosurgery procedure can simply be repeated. Cryosurgery has been approved by the FDA, a branch of the United States government that regulates food, drugs and medical procedures and equipment. The cryosurgery equipment at The Barn Clinic has also received a European Union C.E. mark for the treatment of neuroma and Plantar Fasciitis.
Can Anyone Have this Treatment?
Cryosurgery injection treatment involves very cold temperatures, therefore this procedure is not offered to those Morton’s Neuroma patients with poor circulation or peripheral vascular disease or conditions such as chilblains or Raynaud’s Phenomena.
Is There a Waiting List?
The current waiting time for cryosurgery treatment at our clinic in Sheffield is 2-3 weeks. Please do not book a routine clinic appointment in the expectation that the procedure can be performed immediately. If you are travelling from afar we can offer advice on travel and help with airport transfers from Manchester or Doncaster airports.
Why Did You Introduce Cryosurgery Treatment into the UK?
For many years Mr. Weaver had felt sympathy for those patients who had unsuccessfully tried all the existing remedies for their Morton’s Neuroma symptoms. Such patients were faced with the choice of either living with their foot pain or having standard surgery which could make matters worse.
Mr. Weaver felt that Morton’s Neuroma patients in the UK should have access to the alternative treatment of cryosurgery which is effective and safe. To this end, he completed his cryosurgical training in the US with one of the world’s most experienced cryosurgery trainers. On his return to the UK, Mr. Weaver has continued to work with American colleagues to develop and refine the technique further.
Since introducing Podiatric cryosurgery into the UK in 2008, Mr. Weaver has now completed over 1000 cryosurgery treatments for both Morton’s Neuroma and Plantar Fasciitis and is pleased to have been able to help so many people with their foot pain and heel pain using this highly effective treatment.
With well over 5 years of Morton’s Neuroma cryosurgery behind us, and over 1000 cryosurgery treatments carried out at our UK clinics, we are now the most experienced Podiatric cryosurgery clinic outside of North America.