Definition

What is Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is a disease that impacts the ball of your foot and the area between your third and fourth toes is more common. If you are experiencing Morton’s neuroma, you may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.

Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.

It is believed that high-heeled shoes have been relevant to the development of Morton’s neuroma. Many people experience relief by switching to lower heeled shoes with wider toe boxes. Sometimes corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.

How common is Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is frequent cause of forefoot pain and disability. Women seem to have higher risk than men. Morton’s neuroma most frequently develops between the third and fourth toes, usually in response to irritation, trauma or excessive pressure. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma?

Actually, there is no outward sign or symptom of this condition, such as a lump. Instead, you may notice these following symptoms:

  • A feeling as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe
  • A burning pain in the ball of your foot that may radiate into your toes
  • Tingling or numbness in your toes

When should I see my doctor?

It’s best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. See your doctor if you experience a burning pain in the ball of your foot that’s not improving, despite changing your footwear and modifying activities that may cause stress to your foot.

Causes

What causes Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma seems to occur in response to irritation, pressure or injury to one of the nerves that lead to your toes.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Morton’s neuroma?

There are many risk factors for Morton’s neuroma, such as:

Wearing high heels

Wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are tight or ill fitting can place extra pressure on your toes and the ball of your foot.

Playing certain sports

Participating in high-impact athletic activities such as jogging or running may subject your feet to repetitive trauma. Sports that feature tight shoes, such as snow skiing or rock climbing, can put pressure on your toes.

Foot deformities

People who have bunions, hammertoes, high arches or flatfeet are at higher risk of developing Morton’s neuroma.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Morton’s neuroma diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Some recommended imaging tests are more useful than others in the diagnosis of Morton’s neuroma:

X-rays

Your doctor is likely to order X-rays of your foot, to rule out other causes of your pain, such as a stress fracture.

Ultrasound

This technology uses sound waves to create real-time images of internal structures. Ultrasound is particularly good at revealing soft tissue abnormalities, such as neuromas.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Using radio waves and a strong magnetic field, an MRI also is good at visualizing soft tissues. But it’s an expensive test and often indicates neuromas in people who have no symptoms.

How is Morton’s neuroma treated?

Some treatment options that your health provider may suggest include:

Therapy

Arch supports and foot pads fit inside your shoe and help reduce pressure on the nerve. These can be purchased over-the-counter, or your doctor may prescribe a custom-made, individually designed shoe insert — molded to fit the exact contours of your foot.

Surgical and other procedures

If conservative treatments haven’t helped, your doctor might suggest:

  • Injections

Some people are helped by the injection of steroids into the painful area.

  • Decompression surgery

In some cases, surgeons can relieve the pressure on the nerve by cutting nearby structures, such as the ligament that binds together some of the bones in the front of the foot.

  • Removal of the nerve

Surgical removal of the growth may be necessary if other treatments fail to provide pain relief. Although surgery is usually successful, the procedure can result in permanent numbness in the affected toes.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Morton’s neuroma?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Morton’s neuroma:

Take anti-inflammatory medications

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve), can reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Try ice massage

Regular ice massage may help reduce pain. Freeze a water-filled paper cup or plastic foam cup and roll the ice over the painful site.

Change your footwear

Avoid high heels or tight shoes. Choose shoes with a broad toe box and extra depth.

Take a break

For a few weeks, reduce activities such as jogging, aerobic exercise or dancing that subject your feet to high impact.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 31, 2017 | Last Modified: July 31, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.