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Morton’s neuroma is a painful, benign swelling commonly found in the foot, although it can occur in a variety of places throughout the body. It’s usually located between the third and fourth toes, though it can pop up elsewhere in the foot.

Neuroma leads to pain and discomfort in the ball of the foot, so it’s not something to be ignored.  It’s often the result of other common foot conditions so it’s worth knowing what to look out for.

What Is Morton’s Neuroma?

A neuroma occurs when the nerve between the metatarsals becomes trapped between the two bones. This irritates the nerve causing it to thicken, and the resulting swelling is known as a neuroma. Without treatment, the swelling will continue and over time will lead to permanent nerve damage.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but generally involve some or all of the following: pain, tingling, numbness, a burning sensation and the feeling of an uncomfortable lump in the ball of the foot or in the shoe.

The symptoms come on gradually and initially may only last a few minutes. They might occur when you’re wearing a particular pair of shoes or you’re doing a certain activity – for example, running or playing tennis.

Many of us are tempted to ignore intermittent problems, but this really isn’t wise. It won’t go away on its own and is likely to get worse. Eventually it can progress to severe pain, which lasts for days or even weeks. In some cases this can become permanent – indeed some sufferers live with Morton’s neuroma for years, which is a real shame as it can be treated.

What Causes Morton’s Neuroma?

In general, it’s the result of subjecting the foot to extra stress and pressure. Not surprisingly, it’s often found in ladies who regularly wear high heels and narrow shoes. Heals aren’t the only culprits though. Any activity where the feet aren’t supported correctly will create problems. Poorly fitting sports shoes or even everyday footwear will have the same effect, as will being overweight.

In some instances, other foot conditions can be to blame. Bunions, hammertoes and flat feet also create pressure, which leads to pain and discomfort. In addition, any foot issue has the potential to affect your posture and gait, as you automatically adjust the way you walk and stand to ease the pain.  

All these issues result in additional weight and pressure bearing down on the feet in all the wrong places.   

How Can Morton’s Neuroma Be Treated?

A good place to start is by wearing the right shoes. These should be flat with laces or strap fastenings to prevent your feet from slipping around. They must be wide enough to fit comfortably across your big toe joint. This is the widest part of the foot, so a tight fit here will cause additional pressure that only makes things worse.

A flexible cushioned sole eases compression around the neuroma. Alternatively, custom-made orthotics or metatarsal gel pads may do the trick instead. Icing the affected area can also help the swelling, as can anti-inflammatory medicine or cortisone injections. In many cases, these measures will be enough, but surgery is a solution if these aren’t sufficient.

Friendly Advice at Feet By Pody

Don’t suffer in silence. Our experienced podiatrists can help with treatments, custom orthotics and footwear advice.  

Contact Feet By Pody today to discuss a potential Morton’s neuroma or any other foot problem.