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Morton's Neuroma: All You Need to Know

If you are experiencing persistent foot pain or discomfort, you may have a condition called Morton's neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of the foot and can cause pain, tingling, and numbness. This article explains everything you need to know about Morton’s neuroma. Continue reading to check and confirm if you have Morton’s neuroma, and how to treat it.

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

The name "Morton neuroma" comes from Thomas Morton, a doctor who wrote about the compression of nerves between the metatarsal heads in 1876. Despite the name, it is not a true neuroma, but rather a condition in which chronic irritation of the interdigital nerve causes neuropathic pain.

Morton’s neuroma occurs when the tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes, becomes thicker and presses on the nerve. This pressure irritates the nerve and causes the pain and other symptoms associated with Morton’s neuroma.

Image from National Library Medicine

Morton’s neuroma is most commonly seen in middle-aged women, although it can affect men and people of any age. It is most often caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or have high heels, excessive physical activity such as running, and having an abnormal foot structure such as bunions or hammertoes.

Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma

If you have Morton’s Neuroma, you may be experiencing some of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling of having a pebble in the shoe
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the toes
  • Seems like your sock has a bulge that you cannot seem to straighten
  • Burning sensation in the ball of your foot
  • Pain that increases when wearing tight footwear
  • Discomfort thats increases during vigorous activities
  • Difficulty walking

Causes of Morton’s Neuroma

The exact cause of Morton's neuroma is not known, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of factors. Common causes of Morton's neuroma include:

  • Wearing tight, narrow shoes or high heels
  • Participating in activities that involve repetitive motions of the foot
  • Increase in physical activity or an injury to the area
  • Trauma to the foot, bunions, or flat feet
  • Foot deformities, high arches, or hammertoes

How is Morton's neuroma diagnosed? 

Morton's neuroma is typically diagnosed based upon the patient's symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination. During the physical examination, the doctor may press on the affected area of the foot to determine if pain is present. If pain is present, the doctor may order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to rule out any other potential causes such as a stress fracture or arthritis. 

The doctor may also perform a nerve conduction study to measure how quickly electrical signals travel through the affected nerve. If the nerve conduction study confirms the presence of Morton's neuroma, the doctor may recommend treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or an injection of local anesthetic and corticosteroid. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the neuroma.

How to relieve the pain associated with Morton's neuroma?

There are several ways to ease the pain of Morton's neuroma yourself, and allow the nerve to heal. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Rest your feet  

Give your feet a break from activities that put pressure on the affected area. Limit the amount of time you spend on your feet and avoid activities such as running or wearing high heels.

  1. Ice the area 

In order to provide relief, it is recommended to use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables on the affected area for 15 minutes. This will help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.

  1. Stretch your feet 

Stretching your feet can be a great way to help reduce the pain. By stretching the muscles and tendons in the feet, tension in the area can be relieved and the discomfort of the condition can be minimized. Regular stretching can help to keep the muscles and tendons in the feet loose and relaxed, helping to reduce the pain.

  1. Use a cushion 

To help reduce the discomfort, place a cushion or pad in your shoe. Make sure the cushion or pad you use is specifically designed for Morton's Neuroma and fits comfortably in your shoe. This can help to provide the necessary support and alleviate the pain associated with the condition.

  1. Wear shoes with a wide toe box 

Having extra space in the toe area of your shoe allows your toes to move more freely and reduces the amount of pressure put on the affected area. This can help to prevent pain and discomfort that can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. If you're looking to make sure your feet are comfortable, then investing in shoes with a wide toe box is a great option.

  1. Take over-the-counter pain medications 

To reduce inflammation and discomfort, one can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available without a prescription. Popular examples of these medications include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.

If the pain does not improve, it is important to see a heel pain doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Treatment Options for Morton’s Neuroma

Treatment options for Morton’s neuroma depend on the severity of the condition and the individual patient’s needs, and may include:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment: Non-surgical treatment options for Morton’s neuroma include rest, icing the area, wearing wider shoes, using arch supports or orthotics, and taking medications such as anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids. Non-surgical treatments are often successful in relieving the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma.
  • Surgical Treatment: If non-surgical treatments are not successful, surgery may be necessary to treat Morton’s neuroma. Surgery may involve removing the swollen nerve, cutting the surrounding tissue, or releasing pressure on the nerve. Surgery typically results in a significant reduction of pain and improved function of the affected foot.
  • Alternative Treatments: In addition to traditional treatments, some people with Morton’s neuroma may find relief with alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy.

No matter what treatment option is chosen, it is important to seek medical advice from a qualified heel pain doctor in order to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.

Where to Get Foot and Ankle Surgery in South Florida?

Florida Foot and Ankle Associates have been treating patients for decades, building trust and a reputation for providing the best care for foot and ankle conditions. Our caring and compassionate healthcare professionals will accompany you through every step of the way, and we are using the most modern practices and equipment in podiatry, from regular foot care to more complex treatments.

Some areas in which we specialize include: 

We serve in South Florida, including the Greater Miami Area, all surrounding Miami-Dade communities as far north as Broward County and Palm Beach County. Do not hesitate to find the doctor's office closest to you. Find your doctor here

If you require podiatry services, do not hesitate to contact us today or call 786 662 3893 to book an appointment. 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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