woman changing out of a high-heeled shoe into a sneakerMorton's neuroma happens when there is an overgrowth of nerve tissue on the bottom of the foot. This typically occurs at the base of the third and fourth toes and can cause pain in the ball of the foot. A Morton's neuroma is also known as an intermetatarsal neuroma. While there is no cure for this condition, symptoms can be treated and minimized through a variety of treatment options. If left untreated, Morton's neuroma can worsen over time and may require surgery.

Causes of Morton's Neuroma

Morton's neuroma is common in middle-aged women but can happen to people of all ages and both genders. When there is a repetitive overload on the foot, Morton's neuroma can develop. Some common causes of Morton's neuroma include:

  • Certain shoes. Wearing shoes that are narrow or have a high heel can put the foot in a strained position.
  • Weight. Being overweight can put too much pressure and weight on the feet.
  • Foot deformity. A foot deformity such as a bunion, hammertoe, flat feet, or a high arch can put you at risk for Morton's neuroma due to instability of the foot.
  • Activity. A high-impact activity such as running or a sport such as skiing can put pressure on your feet.
  • Trauma. An injury or trauma to the foot that swells and damages the nerve can cause Morton's neuroma.

What Does Morton's Neuroma Feel Like?

Morton's neuroma can be painful and may feel like there is something inside the ball of your foot. The pain may improve when you take off your shoes or flex your toes.

Some common symptoms of Morton's neuroma include:

  • Burning pain in the ball of your foot
  • Sharp pain when standing or walking
  • Tingling or numbness at the base of the toes
  • Feeling of a pebble inside of your shoe

Morton's Neuroma Treatment Options

If you are experiencing symptoms of Morton's neuroma, consult with a podiatrist for an evaluation. A podiatrist will do the following to diagnose the condition:

  • Physical exam where the bottom of the foot will be squeezed or pressed on to check for areas of pain and sensitivity
  • Imaging tests such as an X-ray to rule out other conditions that may be causing the pain

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment options will be recommended. The earlier you begin a treatment plan, the more likely you are to have relief from the pain. The goal of treatment is to reduce pressure on the nerves of your feet to help with the pain. Once you have Morton's neuroma, it will never go away, but symptoms can be managed. The condition can worsen over time without proper treatment.

Some conservative treatments for a Morton's neuroma include:

  • Wearing proper-fitting shoes with a roomy toe area
  • Icing the foot for 10 to 15 minutes at a time
  • Using anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling
  • Resting
  • Massaging the feet
  • Taping and padding
  • Custom orthotics

If conservative treatments do not improve your symptoms, other options may be considered, such as:

  • Injections of a steroid medication to reduce pain and swelling
  • Nerve ablation
  • Surgery to remove the injured or damaged nerve

Pain Prevention Tips

A Morton's neuroma may never go away, but there are some prevention tips to follow that can help decrease pain, such as:

  • Wear shoes that are supportive and have extra room in the toe box.
  • Use an arch support in shoes that do not have adequate support.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce activities that put pressure on your feet.
  • Rest if you begin to feel pain in your feet.

Contact an Oregon Podiatrist

If you have a Morton's neuroma or are experiencing pain in your feet, contact Hermiston Family Foot Clinic for help. We can help create a custom treatment plan to address your needs and specific foot condition. Call our Hermiston, Oregon office today at 541-567-8750 or fill out our convenient contact form online to set up an appointment.