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Morton's Neuroma Overview

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT February 06, 2021 0 Comments

If you have persistent pain in your foot and constantly feel like you are walking on pebbles under the ball of your foot, you may have a serious condition known as Morton’s neuroma. It is a rare, painful foot injury that is eight to ten times more common in women than in men, but when left untreated, it can impede your ability to perform daily tasks. Understanding Morton’s neuroma is the first step toward a full recovery--read on to know how you can keep your feet at full performance.

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s metatarsalgia or Morton's neuroma is a painful foot condition which usually damages one of the nerves between the third and the fourth toe secondary to inflammation. Sometimes confused with a non-cancerous tumor, it is actually a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the nerve between the toe bones at the forefoot.

Morton's neuroma in both feet occurs at an increased rate in runners. Also, women are more likely to develop the condition than men because of wearing tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes.

Morton’s Neuroma Causes

What causes Morton’s neuroma? The exact common causes are still unknown, but there is a high correlation between:

  • high-impact sports
  • wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels
  • result of trauma, irritation, compression or excessive pressure on the small nerves between the toes (metatarsals), the most common one is known as the common plantar digital nerve.

In addition, those suffering from foot deformities—flat feet, high arches, hammer toes, or bunions—are at greater risk of having Morton’s neuroma.

Morton’s Neuroma Symptoms

Morton’s neuroma often comes with no visible signs, such as a lump in your foot. However, it can cause a sharp pain on the bottom of your foot (metatarsal bones) and may radiate to nearby toes. The stabbing pain can become so severe that it will affect walking and weight bearing. Other Morton’s neuroma symptoms include:

  • Numbness in toes
  • Ball of the foot pain
  • Tingling sensation
  • Burning pain
  • A clicking sound
  • A dull pain while walking
  • A feeling that there’s a marble in your shoe 

Morton’s Neuroma Diagnosis

Determining how to treat Morton's neuroma begins with accurate diagnosis. Do not ignore any severe foot pain, especially if it lasts longer than a few days. It is a good idea to see your family doctor or a specialist right away to discuss your history of pain.

A doctor or physical therapist can quickly identify this painful foot disorder during a thorough physical examination. To create real-time Morton's neuroma pictures, MRI and a Morton’s neuroma ultrasound may be required to confirm the diagnosis. Other Morton’s neuroma tests, such as X-rays, can be useful to rule out other causes of pain.

Morton’s Neuroma Recovery Time

It is advisable to take a break from certain strenuous activities for several weeks to let the nerve heal. There are several self-care tips, like wearing orthotic shoe inserts or performing exercises, that you can do to prevent a recurrence. Even small lifestyle changes can go a long way.

If symptoms are severe and not improving with conservative treatment, surgery may be required to release the affected nerve. Recovery after surgical repair usually takes two to six weeks. However, other medical problems, poor nutrition, smoking, and age may prolong healing.

Conservative Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma

Dealing with Morton’s Neuroma Pain

Can Morton's neuroma be cured? This painful foot condition is treatable, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to it. For some people, the goal is to enjoy morning walks around the neighborhood again, while others may want to return to the labor-intensive hobbies or the sports they love. With the help of this detailed injury guide, you can achieve your own goals.

Sources:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mortons-neuroma/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nabil-ebraheim-md/mortons-neuroma_b_12881502.html

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/mortons-neuroma 

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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