What exactly is Morton’s Neuroma?
Although a neuroma (noo-roh-muh) is a benign tumor of a nerve, you’ll be relieved to know that Morton’s neuroma is not actually a tumor. It is simply a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the nerve that leads to your toes. Morton’s neuroma is located where the nerve passes under the ligament connecting the toe bones to your foot.
What causes Morton’s Neuroma?
Anything that causes compression of your foot and toes can irritate the nerves of your foot, causing swelling and resulting in pain and numbness – most often between the third and fourth toes. Repetitive activities like running or court sports can cause irritation to the ball of the foot. Some foot conditions – such as bunions, hammer toes, flat feet, or more flexible feet – and injury or trauma will put you at a higher risk for developing a neuroma. Untreated, these symptoms typically escalate. Women who often wear tight, high-heeled dress shoes experience aggravated symptoms of neuroma eight to ten times more than in men.
What are common symptoms?
With Morton’s neuroma you may feel as though you have a pebble under the ball of your foot and may experience persistent pain in the area between your third and fourth toes.
Other symptoms you may experience include:
- Tingling, burning or numbness
- Pain that radiates into your toes
- Pain that intensifies with activity
- Pain wearing shoes
- Numbness in your toes
- An unpleasant feeling in your toes
How is it diagnosed?
Your Summit foot care physician will ask for a history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During your foot examination, they will try to simulate your symptoms by moving your foot.
What are my treatment options?
Your Summit foot specialist may prescribe a variety of treatment options. Depending how long you have had the neuroma and how severe your symptoms are, initial therapies are nonsurgical and relatively simple.
For mild to moderate neuromas treatment options may include:
- Orthotic devices
- Activity modifications
- Shoe modifications – avoiding high heels and tight shoes
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen)
- Injection (corticosteroid)
What can I expect my results to be after treatment?
More than 80 percent of those diagnosed Morton’s neuroma will experience relief from a change to roomier, more comfortable shoes with a wider toe box, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, custom foot orthotic devices, and cortisone injections.
When is surgery needed?
If your symptoms are not relieved by common non-surgical treatment options, your Summit foot surgeon may suggest surgical treatment for your condition. Surgery generally involves a short 2-3 week recovery period. Your recovery period will vary depending on the procedure performed.
Whether or not you choose nonsurgical or surgical treatment, your Summit foot surgeon will provide long-term recommendations to help keep your symptoms from returning. Modification of your activities and selection of appropriate footwear will ensure long-lasting results.
Summit foot and ankle expert Michael Anderson, D.O., explains the most common, treatable causes of foot pain in this two-part article series.