Morton's neuroma is a painful condition where a part of the nerve running under the ball of your foot becomes swollen and irritated. It commonly affects the nerve between the third and fourth metatarsal bones, causing pain and numbness in the smaller toes. Morton's neuroma can develop in different areas of the ball of our feet and sometimes complicating the diagnosis.
What Causes Morton's Neuroma?
The cause of Morton's neuroma is not well understood. However, it likely develops from chronic stress and irritation of digital plantar nerves. There are several contributing factors to this stress. Some thickening (fibrosis) and swelling may then develop around the nerve. This can be classified as a neuroma and can lead to compression of the nerve.
The position of our bones also contributes to the development of Morton's neuroma. The anatomical space is narrower between the second and third metatarsals, and between the third and fourth metatarsals. The nerves running between these areas can get compressed and irritated easily. Wearing narrow fitting shoes with higher heels can worsen this compression and enhances the stress.
How do I know if I have Morton's neuroma?
Morton's neuroma causes shooting pain in the ball of the foot that often makes the small toes feel numb. Burning and tingling of the smaller toes can also occur. In some cases, it feels like your socks are bunched up beneath your toes.
Symptoms worsen when wearing high-heeled and narrow fitting shoes. The pain is resovled by removing your shoes, resting your foot and massaging the area. Symptoms can be intermittent in the beginning and worsen if you don't treat the cause and let the irritation persist.
Morton's neuroma can be assessed by your Chiropodist after listening to your symptoms and examining your foot. Sometimes your Chiropodist can feel the 'neuroma' or an area of thickening in your foot, which may be tender. Your Chiropodist may suggest getting an ultrasound or MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis, but it's not always necessary.
Treatment of Morton's neuroma
Morton's neuroma can be a frustrating condition to treat. It's recommended to treat the condition early. Waiting will only worsen the problem. Our Chiropodists can help you with Morton's neuroma pain by helping you with footwear recommendations and adjustment, cast you for custom made foot orthotics, suggest daily stretches and laser therapy to help in the early stages. Chronic neuroma pain may benefit greater from shockwave therapy, steroid injections, alcohol injections or surgery.
If conservative measures fail, surgery might be your last solution. Surgery involves a small incision being made on either the top or bottom of the foot between the affected toes. If the nerve is removed, there can be permanent numbness of the skin between the affected toes. This does not usually cause any future problems. Surgical removal of Morton's neuroma is generally successful. However, as with any surgical operation, there is always a level of risk.