Plantar fibromas (Ledderhose Disease)

Plantar fibromas (Ledderhose Disease)

What are Plantar Fibroma’s?

Have you ever felt a small bump along the arch of your foot? Chances are you’ll know if you have, as they can be quite uncomfortable! You may be experiencing plantar fibromas. Plantar fibromas go by many names, medically they are referred to as plantar fascial fibromatosis or Ledderhose’s disease. It is a relatively uncommon benign (non-cancerous) thickening of the plantar fascia – the connective tissue within our feet. They are often no bigger than 1 inch and grow along the arch of your feet. As well as this, fibromas usually start off pain free and can go unnoticed until pressure occurs via certain shoes/ walking around barefoot.

What Causes a Plantar Fibroma?

From what we understand with current research, there is no confirmed cause although you are more likely to develop one from the following criteria:
  • Have a genetic predisposition: Plantar fibromas may be genetically inherited, meaning you are more likely to get them if a family member has had them.
  • Older than 40: Adults between the ages of 40-60 are generally more likely to experience plantar fibromas.
  • Men: Males are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a plantar fibroma than females.
  • European descent: Those with a European background are more prone to plantar fibromas.
Having other health conditions may also put you at risk of developing plantar fibromas, such as:
  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Alcohol abuse.
There have also been associations with certain medications, such as:
  • Anti-seizure medication, such as phenytoin.
  • Beta blockers for high blood pressure.
  • Glucosamine & chondroitin.
  • Vitamine C (in large doses) .

What are the symptoms of plantar fibromas?

Initially, a plantar fibroma may cause little to no discomfort. Over time these lumps may grow in size which can put pressure on surrounding soft tissue, often leading to pain. Symptoms often gets worse when:
  • Applying pressure to the fibroma.
  • Restrictive/ overly corrective footwear.
  • Walking barefoot.
  • Long periods of standing.

What are the treatment options for plantar fibromas?

Non-surgical treatment for plantar fibromas aim to reduce pain and in some cases minimise the size of the mass. Surgical intervention may be required with long term cases that haven’t been managed with conservative interventions. Smaller fibromas that cause no pain may not need any treatment at all. Treatment options may include:
  • Corticosteroid injections: can help reduce pain and inflammation, allowing people to walk around easier. Injections may help as a short term treatment.
  • Orthotic insoles and pads: An orthotic made for your foot type will be able to offload your fibroma, as well as evenly spread your weight across your foot so you don’t over-strain the fibrous mass.
  • Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises may assist by acutely reducing symptoms, improving blood flow and managing inflammation.
  • Footwear advice: Supportive shoes that don’t apply pressure or aggravate the fibroma will be essential for symptom management.
  • Surgery: Surgery is only considered if conservative treatment has failed, and the fibroma continues to grow in size and pain severity. Recovery can take up to 8 weeks and there are still risks of fibroma recurrence post-surgery, so it will be important to discuss your options with your podiatrist.
If you have been dealing with a plantar fibroma, be sure to book an appointment with The Movement Centre today. Our podiatrists are experts in all conditions of the foot & lower leg, and would be happy to get you back on your feet pain free!
Disclaimer: The Movement Centre provides this information as an educational service. The information contained on this website and in this blog is not intended to serve as or replace actual medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult their local Randwick Physio, general practitioner, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.