All the information you need on Morton’s Neuroma
What is Morton’s Neuroma?
The name Morton’s neuroma is a little misleading as a neuroma is a benign tumour that grows on nerve cells. A Morton’s neuroma is not a growth but is does effect the nerves. It occurs when a nerve between two of the toes becomes compressed, causing it to become painful and inflamed. It can happen to a nerve between any toes but it most often affects the ones between the third and fourth toes as the gap between the metatarsals (long foot bones) is naturally smaller.
Morton’s Neuroma Symptoms
The first sign that you have Morton’s neuroma is a tingling feeling between your toes. This is where the growth is developing. Over time the tingling will become worse until it grows painful. The pain is felt not just between the toes but also in the ball of the foot and has been described as a shooting burning pain. It is often worse when walking and can be quite debilitating.
What Causes Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s Neuroma is caused by compression of the nerve between the toes, but what creates this compression isn’t exactly known. However, there are some factors that seem to increase the likelihood of contracting the condition.
The gap between the metatarsals is narrower between the second and third toes and the third and fourth toes. This is where Morton’s neuroma often arises and it is thought that tight-fitting shoes narrows the gap even more, causing pressure on the nerve.
It is believed that running can cause Morton’s neuroma as it puts extra pressure on the nerve between the toes, which can cause it to become irritated. Some other sports are believed to increase the likelihood of developing the condition, but they all have running as a base.
If you have an existing foot problem then it is more likely that you will develop Morton’s neuroma than someone with no ailments. Conditions such as bunions, hammer toe and high arches can realign the metatarsal bones, making them rub together. This can aggravate the nerve and lead to Morton’s neuroma.
Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma
There are a number of treatments for the Morton’s neuroma, both surgical and non-surgical. The severity of the condition will dictate the type of treatment you need; often it can be treated at home without surgical intervention.
Non Surgical Morton’s Neuroma Treatments
- Footwear – We previously mentioned that ill-fitting footwear is thought to be a cause of Morton’s neuroma, so changing the shoes will help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. Try not to wear pointed shoes or high heels very much as these are the worst culprits. It’s also a good idea to get your feet measured so you know exactly what size you are.
- Orthotics – These are devices that are placed in the shoe to help support and realign the foot where necessary. They can help relieve pressure on the nerve and provide comfort for the feet.
- Exercises – Calf-stretching exercises can sometimes relieve the pressure on the nerve. Your doctor will be able to advise you on which ones to do.
- Over-the-counter medications – If the Morton’s neuroma is painful then medication may be needed. Often painkillers that are available from pharmacies can tackle the pain. Anti-inflammatory painkillers are the best type as they should reduce any swelling as well.
- Injections – If the pain is quite severe then your GP may suggest that steroids or local anaesthetic be injected into the area, thus numbing the pain.
Surgical Treatment for Morton’s Neuroma
Surgery is only called for if the above treatments do not work or if the condition gets worse. The surgery involves either making more space around the nerve (nerve decompression) or cutting it out completely (nerve resection). Both are relatively simple procedures that are done through a small incision in the foot.
Find out more on our Morton’s Neuroma Treatments page.