A neuroma, specifically a “Morton’s neuroma,” is a noncancerous growth or thickening of nerve tissue, most commonly found between the third and fourth toes or the second and third toes. It typically develops in the ball of the foot, where the metatarsal bones meet the toes. Morton’s neuroma is also referred to as an “interdigital neuroma” or “intermetatarsal neuroma.”
The exact cause of Morton’s neuroma is not always clear, but it is often associated with irritation or compression of the interdigital nerve, which runs between the metatarsal bones. Factors that can contribute to the development of a neuroma include:
- Repetitive trauma or pressure on the forefoot, often due to wearing tight or narrow shoes.
- Foot deformities that cause the bones to rub against the nerve.
- Certain activities that involve repetitive stress on the feet, such as running or sports.
- High heels or shoes with inadequate arch support that force the toes together.
Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the ball of the foot, often described as a burning or sharp sensation.
- Numbness or tingling in the affected area, extending into the toes.
- The feeling of a lump or something inside the foot.
- Pain that worsens with activity, especially when walking or wearing tight shoes.
Diagnosis of Morton’s neuroma is typically based on a physical examination and medical history, as well as the individual’s reported symptoms. Imaging tests like X-rays or ultrasound may be used to rule out other conditions and assess the extent of the neuroma.
Treatment for Morton’s neuroma often involves conservative measures:
- Footwear Modification: Wearing shoes with a wider toe box and proper arch support can help alleviate pressure on the nerve.
- Orthotics: Custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts can provide support and help correct foot mechanics.
- Padding and Cushioning: Using metatarsal pads or cushions can help relieve pressure on the nerve and alleviate pain.
- Foot Rest: Giving the affected foot time to rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain can aid in healing.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort.
- Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
For cases that do not respond to conservative treatments, surgical removal of the neuroma might be considered. Surgery involves removing the neuroma and sometimes releasing surrounding tissues to relieve pressure on the nerve.
If you suspect you have a neuroma or are experiencing foot pain, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.