What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s neuroma is a common condition that causes pain in the ball of your foot—most often in the area between the third and fourth toes. The feeling is often compared to that of having a small rock—or marble—stuck in your shoe. A neuroma is a small benign tumor of a nerve—although Morton’s neuroma is not actually a tumor. Instead, it is a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the nerves that lead to the toes.
Causes & Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma
Ill-fitting shoes—like those that squeeze toes together or distribute weight unevenly—are thought to be the main cause Morton’s neuroma. Those suffering with this condition often find relief by changing shoes, stopping the activity, or by rubbing the affected area.
While poor shoe choice is usually the main cause of Morton’s neuroma, there are a number of other factors that contribute to its development. Some of these include:
- Biomechanical deformities
- Repeated stress
In most cases, there are no outward symptoms related to this Morton’s neuroma. Instead, most people experience a burning pain in the ball of their foot, tingling or numbness in the toes after long period of stress, or the feeling of walking on a pebble in your shoe. When pain persists for more than a few days and you suspect it might be Morton’s neuroma, see your podiatrist to discuss your treatment options.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Morton’s Neuroma
To diagnose Morton’s neuroma, your podiatrist will perform a physical exam, where he or she will feel around for a mass or tender spot. Some imaging tests—like x-rays or an ultrasound—may be ordered to rule out any other causes of your foot pain.
In most cases, Morton’s neuroma can be treated with non-surgical and non-invasive methods. Some of these treatments include:
- Changes in footwear
- Custom orthotics
- Cortisone injections
- Anti-inflammatory medications
If conservative approaches don’t relieve symptoms, your podiatrist may recommend surgical treatment. These procedures may include a procedure where pressure is relieved from the nerve by cutting the nearby structures, known as decompression surgery. Your podiatrist may also recommend removing the affected nerve altogether. The treatment your doctor chooses depends on the severity of your symptoms.