There are many problems that can happen with the feet from sports, accidents, and bad genetics. Among the top three disorders that occur in feet is a condition called Morton’s neuroma. It receives less attention than bunions and plantar fasciitis, but up to 1/3 of the population have the beginnings of neuromas, but don’t even know it.
What is Morton’s Neuroma?
A Morton’s neuroma is a noncancerous swelling in the tissue that looks like a benign tumor inside the foot. It feels like a small rock is in your shoe or under the skin. It was first discovered in 1876. The growth usually occurs between the third and fourth toes in the ball of the foot. Less commonly, it will grow between the second and third toes. It doesn’t come all at once, but rather builds up over time. It builds along a nerve, eventually pushing the bones and ligaments aside. The most common symptoms are
- irritation and inflammation
- burning pain or numbness in the toes, webbing, and ball of the foot
- abnormal sensations in the toes
These symptoms aren’t always linked to Morton’s neuroma. Because of this, a full exam is usually required, with a foot inspection, physical exam, and x-rays. These will help rule out other problems, including stress fractures.
Causes and Symptoms
The most common reason people develop a Morton’s neuroma is from poor shoe choices. Wearing shoes that are not comfortable and support the foot, such as high-heels or any tapered-toe style that forces toes into a limited area. Other causes are activities that cause irritation to the ball of the foot, like running or sports played on a court. Trauma or injuries to the ball of the foot can also lead to developing a neuroma. Those who suffer from other foot deformities like flatfeet, hammertoes, or bunions are more likely to develop Morton’s neuroma. It is also interesting to know that women are more likely to develop Morton’s neuroma.
Most people experiencing mild symptoms do not need to do anything to treat their feet, but a Morton’s neuroma won’t go away on their own. Much of the pain will subside once you take off your shoes, flex your toes, and rub your feet. This is how many sufferers will get by without visiting a doctor. Once the pain and swelling build and this no longer brings the same relief, it is time to visit a doctor. The most common podiatrist recommendations for treatment are:
- Icing the area to help reduce swelling and manage pain
- Limiting weight-bearing activities
- Selecting new shoes that fit properly
- Wearing orthotic inserts that help reduce pressure on the ball of the foot
- A cortisone injection at the swollen area
Most of these conservative treatments are effective for 80% of sufferers. If an examination shows a Morton’s neuroma bigger than 5mm in transverse diameter and contributes to disabling symptoms, surgery may be required to help a patient get back on their feet.
If you suspect that you have Morton’s neuroma and it is interfering with your life, give us a call for an exam today. Foot pain isn’t something that should be ignored. We can help you know what is going on inside your foot so you can get back to your life.