According to Cleveland Clinic, there’s a condition affecting approximately 30% of Americans, yet you may never have heard of it. This condition is often described as a feeling of having a small rock in your shoe, a stinging pain when you lift onto the balls of your feet, or a burning sensation between your toes as you walk.
Morton’s neuroma can present itself in different ways and be of various causes. It’s a painful condition you need to treat so it doesn’t get worse, especially if you want to avoid surgery.
10 Signs You Have Morton’s Neuroma
Most of the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma are internal — making diagnosis by an orthopedic specialist particularly important.
Common Mortons’ neuroma symptoms include:
- The sensation of having a small rock or folded section of sock in your shoe
- A burning feeling in the ball of your foot, most commonly between your fifth and fourth toes (the pinky toe and its neighboring fore toe)
- Pain or swelling in the area that worsens over time
- Tingling or numbness in your toes or the ball of your foot
- Cramping toes with a desire to massage the affected area
- Difficulty or pain when walking
- Irritation that’s worse when wearing high heels or shoes with narrow, pointed toes
- Pain in the balls of your feet when you lift up onto your toes
- Spreading of the toes closest to the painful area
- The need to change your activity levels due to persistent or worsening pain
What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition with a misleading name. A neuroma is technically a benign tumor on a nerve that causes that nerve to grow extra tissue. But for Morton’s, there is no tumor. Rather, the nerve thickens due to irritation and inflammation caused by repeated pressure.
Most cases of Morton’s neuroma affect the ball of the foot between the fourth and fifth toes. Sometimes the second and third toes are affected as well. Morton’s neuroma symptoms begin slowly and worsen over time.
Morton’s Neuroma Causes
Certain people are more at-risk for Morton’s neuroma. Those with flat feet, high arches, bunions, or hammertoes can develop Morton’s. Sports that require repetitive pressure on the balls of your feet, like tennis, basketball, or running, can lead to this type of neuroma.
As noted, Morton’s neuroma is relatively common, and about 80% of cases are seen in women due to wearing high heels or shoes with narrow, pointy toes.
Morton’s Neuroma Treatment at Home
Treating Morton’s neuroma is important, as the neuroma can grow larger without treatment. Corresponding nerve damage may become permanent if left untreated.
The most basic Morton’s neuroma treatment at home is to change your shoes! The best shoes for Morton’s neuroma are flats (or heels lower than two inches), open-toed shoes, or shoes with wide toe boxes. Some sufferers find relief from their Morton’s neuroma symptoms thanks to footwear with extra shock protection, orthotic insoles, or cushioning shoe pads.
Resting your feet and massaging them after a long day are more great options for Morton’s neuroma treatment at home. Using an ice pack on sore areas can also help with pain and swelling.
It’s important to stay fit as you recover — excess body weight can worsen your condition. However, you might need to minimize sports and other activities that put excess pressure on your feet. Morton’s neuroma exercises to stretch and strengthen the foot and arch can be helpful if your pain allows them.
Consider dietary changes as well, focusing on more anti-inflammatory foods.
With a little online research, you’ll also likely encounter new treatments like apple cider vinegar and Epsom salt foot soaks. Your trusted orthopedic podiatrist is the best person to ask about options like these, as well as the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
She or he may recommend corticosteroid shots to reduce inflammation and help manage your pain.
Morton’s Neuroma Surgery
In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the irritated nerve(s). Typically, your orthopedic surgeon will make a small incision on the top of your foot for this removal, and she or he may also need to release tight ligaments in the surrounding area.
Recovery from Morton’s neuroma surgery is usually relatively quick, often in about two-four weeks.
When to See a Doctor for Foot Pain
You should see an orthopedic podiatrist any time you have foot pain lasting more than a few days. Talk with them about any pain in your toes or the ball of your foot that’s not changing despite wearing different shoes, modifying your activities, or self-treating by icing the area.
If you have questions about your foot pain and would like to talk to an orthopedic podiatrist, please feel free to contact us. We can answer any questions you may have.