Feel like you’re standing on a fold in your sock? Or like there’s a pesky pebble in your shoe? Morton’s neuroma – also referred to as a nerve tumor, neuritis, or perineural fibroma – is a painful condition that can cause these irritating sensations.
What’s a neuroma? Simply a swollen nerve. When a nerve is repeatedly pinched or irritated, it will enlarge and, like a scar, develop extra fibrous tissue. The aggravated nerve can cause numbness, tingling, burning, or shooting pains – sensations we at Walking Co. want to help you avoid!
Morton's neuroma occurs in the nerves at the base of the toes on the bottom of the foot, most commonly between the third and fourth toes.
What causes Morton's neuroma isn't fully known, but you may be susceptible to the condition if you:
- Have flat feet or rigid arches. Both lead to increased pressure and stretching of the nerve.
- Wear high heels, which force extra weight to the front of the foot.
- Wear tight shoes, which cramp the toes, pinching the nerves.
- Often crouch or stoop, which can stretch and irritate the nerves.
Could I Have Morton's Neuroma?
Take a closer look at where you feel pain in your foot.
Morton's neuroma affects the toes and the ball of the foot.
Self-Assessment quiz 1
Have I experienced:
- A numb or tingling sensation in the toes or the ball of the foot?
- A burning or shooting pain in the toes or ball of my foot?
- The feeling of a bulge or fullness between my toes?
- The feeling that my toes are asleep?
- Feeling like I'm walking on a wrinkled or crumpled sock?
- Cramping of the toes or a clicking feeling when I walk?
- A frequent urge to take off my shoe and massage my foot?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you show some key symptoms of having Morton's neuroma. Take the next quick quiz.
Self-Assessment Quiz 2
Are any of these statements true for you?
- Applying pressure aggravates the pain.
- Wearing shoes aggravates the pain.
- The toes closest to the pain are starting to spread.
- I've had to curtail my activities because of the pain.
- The pain is getting worse over time.
If any of these statements are true, you may have Morton's neuroma. Make an appointment with a podiatrist to confirm your condition. This is important since symptoms are similar to stress fractures.
Treatment and Prevention
The good news? Treatment for mild cases can be as simple as wearing the right shoes or a special pad. More severe cases may require steroid injections or minor surgery.
Wear shoes with:
- Wide toe boxes to prevent compression. Avoid too-tight shoes.
- Low heels to reduce weight on the ball of the foot. Ditch high heels in favor of more supportive, comfortable shoes!
To find relief from discomfort, you need to reduce pressure on the nerve. The experts at WalkingCo recommend that you:
- Use metatarsal cushion pads or inserts. These pads and inserts help support your arch, provide space between your toes, and relieve pressure on your pinched nerve.
- Use orthotics to change the weight distribution on the foot and provide arch support.
- Tape the toe area.
- Stretch your toes regularly.
- Wear shoes with wide toe boxes to prevent compression.
If pain persists, your podiatrist may recommend injections of the steroid cortisol, or possibly alcohol solutions or Vitamin B12.
Are There Any Serious Concerns With Morton's Neuroma?
Many cases of Morton's neuroma will clear up with at-home treatment. If you have pain that does not respond to those treatments and affects your daily activities, you may need injections or even minor surgery.
Will I Need Surgery?
If the injections don't help, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to remove the nerve or otherwise relieve the tension in the area. Here's what you need to know:
- The success rate is high. Nearly all patients find relief after surgery, though many do experience permanent numbness in the area between the toes.
- Recovery is quick. You'll be off your feet a couple days and then use crutches or other assistance for about three to four weeks.
- Neuromas sometimes recur. If yours does, your podiatrist may recommend freezing or sealing the nerve with a laser.
- Activities that involve crouching and stooping
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider on all matters relating to this or any other condition that may affect your health.