Morton’s neuroma is a particularly problematic foot issue because it comes with frequent pain but typically doesn’t have any visible, outward signs. Unlike a bunion that presents with a bony bump or an ingrown toenail that is often inflamed, Morton’s neuroma does not exhibit foot discoloration or broken skin. If you regularly deal with pain in a specific location at the ball of the foot, you should see a podiatrist to find out if you are dealing with Morton’s neuroma.
Understanding Morton’s Neuroma
Your feet are more complex than you may realize, with bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves all working together in every step. When the tissue around one of the nerves leading to a toe is irritated or compressed, it can thicken, developing into Morton’s neuroma. This painful condition affects the ball of the foot between your metatarsal bones.
The discomfort caused by Morton’s neuroma may feel like a burning pain in the ball of your foot or that you have a small pebble or rock in your shoe. It may initially feel like an annoyance, but over time, it becomes more painful. Patients may also experience a stinging or stabbing pain or even tingling or numbness.
Causes of Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma can be caused by repetitive motion and activities that put pressure on the ball of the foot such as walking, climbing, and playing sports. But this foot condition is often caused by wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight that constantly press against the ball of your foot. The irritated nerve thickens and becomes more painful as more and more pressure is placed on it. Morton’s neuroma is also associated with activities that require you wear tight shoes such as ballet or skiing.
Other Causes of Morton’s Neuroma
Physical trauma to the foot or other medical issues that impact the shape of your feet can also contribute to Morton’s neuroma such as:
- High arches
- Flat feet
How to Treat Morton’s Neuroma and Reduce Pain
There are several conservative treatment options you can try to reduce the pressure on the affected nerve. These treatments don’t require a lot of downtime or a recovery period and can be used during your normal daily routine. In some cases, more drastic options may be necessary, including out-patient surgery.
Conservative Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma
- New shoes. This is a simple solution that can really help. Repeated walking while a nerve is being pinched by your dress shoes, high heels, hiking footwear, or ski boots may be responsible for your pain. Simply switching to a different type of shoe can offer an easy solution for relief.
- Medication. Your doctor may suggest OTC anti-inflammatory medication or prescribe corticosteroid or nerve ablation injections directly in the foot to reduce pain.
- Custom orthotics. If you can’t find a shoe that offers the support you need, a custom insert may be the answer. Custom orthotics are built to your specific foot size and shape to reduce pressure on the areas that cause pain or lead to further thickening of the soft tissue around sensitive nerves.
- Surgery. In more advanced cases of Morton’s neuroma, you may need a surgeon to relieve pressure on the nerve by cutting the thickened soft tissue.