What’s Morton's Neuroma?

Morton's neuroma can cause pain, burning, and tingling in the foot. It's been linked to the use of high heels. In this article, we'll explain what it is and how to treat it.
What’s Morton's Neuroma?

Last update: 25 March, 2021

Morton’s neuroma is a condition that affects the feet. It usually only affects one. It involves an alteration in a nerve in the foot, which causes pain in that area. It commonly occurs between the third and fourth toes.

Although its name may be misleading, Morton’s neuroma isn’t a tumor. It’s a fairly common condition, especially between the ages of 50 and 70. This condition affects women up to eight times more than men.

It can be due to many different causes. Interestingly, it seems to be linked to the use of high heels. For this reason, many times, the treatment can simply consist of changing footwear, without resorting to more aggressive techniques.

Morton’s neuroma can greatly affect the sufferer’s life, preventing them from walking or standing due to pain. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this condition and how to treat it.

What’s Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is an injury that occurs in one of the nerves in the foot. Fibrous tissue grows around this nerve (usually the one between the third and fourth metatarsal), compressing it and hindering its normal functioning.

This fibrous tissue grows due to continuous pressure on the area or nerve irritation. For example, when we run, we put pressure on certain parts of our feet. When that pressure is produced repeatedly on the same area, it can damage it and cause Morton’s neuroma.

The same goes for wearing high heels. Continuously keeping the foot in that position, in which almost all the pressure falls on one part of it, can irritate the nerve that runs through that area.

A woman with pain in her foot due to wearing high heels.

The symptoms it causes

The first symptom that appears is intense pain. It’s quite similar to the sensation of having a stone inside your shoe when walking. It’s a mechanical pain that worsens when supporting this part of the foot. For example, when walking or standing.

Also, it usually causes a tingling sensation in the toe it’s affecting. Also, it causes burning in the sole of the foot or general numbness. Symptoms worsen or improve depending on how much pressure you put on the area.

Diagnosis of Morton’s neuroma

To diagnose Morton’s neuroma, the fundamental thing is to know the characteristics of the pain and the person suffering from it. A checkup is usually enough to reach a diagnosis since there are certain clear risk factors.

For example, it’s much more common in women than in men. Similarly, the use of heels, being a professional athlete, or having a foot deformity increases the risk of suffering from this condition.

Nevertheless, doctors can resort to certain complementary tests to confirm the diagnosis. Firstly, X-rays are often used to rule out that another injury is causing the pain, such as a fracture. Doctors also resort to ultrasound scans.

A woman with foot pain common in Morton's neuroma

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuroma often requires no treatment except choosing the right footwear. Your shoes must be well padded to fully support your feet. For the same reason, it’s best to avoid high heels.

If that isn’t enough, your doctor can prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain. In fact, the doctor may consider injecting corticosteroids into the area to reduce inflammation.

On the other hand, if the pain persists and incapacitates the person, they may need surgery. The goal is to reduce the pressure on the nerve, eliminating the tissues that compress it. In very serious cases, the doctor may consider removing the damaged nerve to avoid pain.

Conclusion

Morton’s neuroma is an injury that usually occurs in the nerve that runs between the third and fourth toes. It’s closely related to the use of high-heeled shoes, sports that involve running, or foot deformities. The treatment usually consists of wearing better shoes and taking care of the health of your feet.

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