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What is Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma, often described as an unwelcome pebble lodged in your shoe, is a foot condition common among individuals heavily reliant on their feet, like dancers. This condition is characterized by the thickening of tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes, typically between the third and fourth toes. This thickening can cause sharp, burning pain, and numbness—like a distressing misstep in an otherwise perfect dance sequence.

What can cause Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is often linked to factors that put high pressure on the ball of the foot or squeeze the toes, leading to irritation or damage to the nerves. Here are some common causes.

  • Physical activities:High-impact athletic activities such as jogging, running, or any sports that involve repetitive pressure on the foot can lead to this condition. Moreover, activities that require tight shoes, like ballet dancing or rock climbing, can also cause Morton’s neuroma.
  • Footwear:High-heeled shoes, especially those with a narrow toe box, can compress your toes, contributing to the development of Morton’s neuroma. Certain sports shoes, like ski boots or rock climbing shoes, can also put extra pressure on the feet.
  • Foot deformities:Predisposing foot conditions include bunions, hammertoes, high arches, or flat feet.
  • Trauma:Any direct injury to the nerve can cause it to thicken, leading to Morton’s neuroma.

What are the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma, and how is it diagnosed?

Morton’s neuroma typically presents with a set of specific symptoms.

  • Pain in the forefoot and between toes:This can manifest as a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot, often in the area between the third and fourth toes, but can occur elsewhere.
  • Numbness or tingling:People with Morton’s neuroma often report feeling numbness or a tingling sensation in their toes, similar to pins and needles.
  • Feeling of standing on a pebble:Some individuals describe it as the sensation of standing on a pebble in their shoe or on a fold in their sock.

Diagnosing Morton’s neuroma typically involves a combination of a clinical examination and imaging tests. During the examination, your doctor may :

  • Press on your foot:The doctor might press on the foot to feel for a mass or a click (Mulder’s sign).
  • Manipulate your toes:By squeezing the side of your foot, the doctor can often reproduce the symptoms to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Recommend imaging tests:While a physical examination can provide strong indicators, doctors may also recommend imaging tests to visualize the affected nerve and rule out other conditions.

What are the treatment and aftercare options for Morton’s neuroma?

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma typically begins with conservative measures such as changing to comfortable, wide-toed box shoes, using custom orthotics for pressure relief, physical therapy to strengthen foot muscles, and medication like ibuprofen or corticosteroids for pain and swelling reduction.

Surgical options may be necessary if symptoms persist, such as decompression surgery to relieve nerve pressure or a neurectomy to remove the affected nerve. Post-treatment aftercare generally involves rest, physical therapy, and a gradual return to regular activities. Preventing recurrence is also crucial, which may require continued use of appropriate footwear, custom orthotics, and modifications to activities that could strain the feet.

Taking a stand

Are you living with foot pain that’s holding you back from life’s simple pleasures? At Texas Orthopaedic Associates, we understand how crucial it is to get back on your feet. Don’t let foot pain keep you sidelined. Connect with us today—we’re here to help you step forward into a healthier, more comfortable future.