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I Have Morton’s Neuroma: Can You Help?

I Have Morton’s Neuroma: Can You Help?

It began as minor pain in the ball of your foot that quickly got better with rest, or when you removed your shoes and lightly massaged the base of your toes. But the pain never went away completely, and in fact, it always seemed to return — gradually worsening — when you spent any amount of time on your feet. 

 Then, you found out your irritating foot pain problem had a name: Morton’s neuroma.

As board-certified orthopedists who specialize in helping people overcome debilitating foot injuries, our team at Sports Medicine Oregon in Tigard and Wilsonville, Oregon, offers a full scope of treatment solutions for Morton’s neuroma. Here’s how we can help you. 

Understanding Morton’s neuroma 

Morton’s neuroma develops when a nerve situated between two bones in the ball of the foot becomes irritated and swells, pressing into adjacent structures.  

 Typically, Morton’s neuroma is the inflammation and enlargement of the interdigital nerve between the metatarsal bones in the ball of your foot, right where they connect to the phalange bones of your third and fourth toes (the middle toes closest to your pinkie toe). 

Although the term “neuroma” is used to describe a noncancerous tumor that develops on a nerve, it’s a bit of a misnomer in this case. Morton’s neuroma is not an abnormal mass of tissue growing along a nerve in the ball of your foot — it’s the swelling and entrapment of existing nerve tissue.    

Why it happens 

Anything that irritates, compresses, or injures any of the interdigital nerves in the ball of your foot — most often those between the third and fourth toes or second and third toes — can lead to Morton’s neuroma. 

Wearing high-heeled shoes or tight shoes with a tapered toe box is commonly associated with Morton’s neuroma, as is taking part in activities that involve repetitive pressure on the ball of the foot, such as running or court sports like basketball. 

What it feels like

Morton’s neuroma can feel as though you’re stepping on a stone or marble every time you bear weight on the ball of your foot. This acute forefoot pain may be accompanied by: 

Although Morton’s neuroma symptoms get better with rest, they also tend to progress over time without intervention.

Who develops it 

Anyone can develop Morton’s neuroma, and many people do — experts estimate that one in three people feel the effects of this common repetitive stress injury at some point in life. 

 

The condition is more likely to affect people who walk a lot, engage in forefoot-intensive sports, or wear tight, high, or unsupportive shoes. Certain foot deformities — including bunions, hammertoe, or flatfeet — increase the risk of neuroma. 

Morton’s neuroma treatment options

Without intervention, Morton’s neuroma can lead to irreversible nerve damage and chronic foot pain. Luckily, the problem is also highly treatable — and can often be successfully resolved with a conservative care approach.   

The goal of Morton’s neuroma treatment is to reduce pressure on the affected nerve, ease inflammation, and promote healing through a combination of strategies, including: 

Footwear changes

Just as high heels and tight shoes can squeeze your metatarsal bones and compress the interdigital nerve, footwear with a wide, roomy toe box, low heels, and a soft, cushioned sole allows these bones to spread back out and takes pressure off the inflamed nerve. 

Injection therapy 

Injection therapy — or receiving one or more corticosteroid injections — can bring fast pain relief by quickly alleviating nerve inflammation and swelling.  

Icing and padding

Applying cloth-covered ice packs to your affected foot eases neuroma pain by reducing inflammation and swelling. Padding techniques, including OTC pads made for Morton’s neuroma, reduce pain by lessening nerve pressure and compression when walking.

Medication use

Temporary use of oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is sometimes recommended to help ease inflammation and pain. 

Custom orthotics

Wearing custom orthotic inserts helps alleviate neuroma-related pain and irritation by keeping your toes in the correct position, minimizing pressure and compression on the affected nerve when you’re on your feet.

Activity modification

It’s best to avoid activities that put pressure on a compressed interdigital nerve, at least until the condition improves. This may mean cross-training with another activity if you’re a runner, or seeking accommodations at work if your job keeps you on your feet.   

You don’t have to live with foot pain 

While most people don’t need surgery to resolve Morton’s neuroma, the condition won’t just go away on its own — it needs expert care and a comprehensive treatment approach. We’re here to help: Call or click online to schedule a visit.

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