If you feel persistent pain in the ball of your foot or as though you are “walking on a marble,” then you may have a condition called Morton’s neuroma. This is a misnomer because Morton’s neuroma is not actually a nerve tumour, but rather, a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the digital nerve leading to the toes. This condition typically develops between the third and fourth toes, in response to irritation, trauma or excessive pressure.
Normally, there are no external signs such as a lump, as this is not really a tumour. Instead, the common symptoms include:
- Burning pain in the ball of the foot that may radiate into the toes
- Pain that gets worse with activities or wearing shoes
- Numbness or an unpleasant feeling in the toes
Morton’s neuroma is often caused by wearing high-heeled shoes which put the foot in a push-off position, or tight and narrow shoes that compress the toe bones and pinch the nerve. Repetitive sports activities such as running also increase pressure on the ball of the foot.
Other factors include:
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Hammer toes
Your orthopaedic specialist will start off with a physical examination to feel for a palpable mass, a focal point of tenderness, or a “click” between the bones of your toes. He or she may put pressure on the web spaces between the toe to try to reproduce your pain. In addition, your doctor will test the range of motion and check for bony tenderness in the foot to rule out other causes of foot pain.
You may be required to undergo an X-ray to rule out arthritis or stress fractures of the foot. If a soft tissue lump is felt, an ultrasound or MRI may be ordered to help ascertain its origin.
Initial treatments for Morton’s neuroma are simple and often non-surgical. This includes anti-inflammatory medication, changing your footwear to wear shoes with lower heels and a wide toe box, and shoe inserts to reduce pressure on the digital nerves. If the pain persists, steroid injections can help to reduce the nerve inflammation.
If conservative treatments prove to be ineffective, your doctor may recommend a small surgery to resect part of the nerve and release the scar tissue around the nerve to relieve your symptoms.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you suspect you are suffering from Morton’s neuroma and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life.