Morton’s neuroma is a painful benign growth affecting the ball of your foot in the nerve cells. It mostly occurs between the third and fourth toes (reason why it’s also called intermetatarsal neuroma) and it may feel as if you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe.
Causes of Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is caused when the nerves in the feet become irritated or compressed often due to wearing tight or high heeled shoes. The irritated nerve thickens and as a result of the pressure on it, it gradually becomes painful.
Individuals with foot abnormalities such as hammertoes, bunions, flat feet or high arches are at a higher risk of developing Morton’s neuroma.
Participating in certain sports which feature tight shoes can also put pressure on your toes.
Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma
There are no outward obvious symptoms of this condition, but you may experience the following:
- Burning pain in the ball of the foot that may radiate to the toes
- Feeling as if you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe
- Numbness or tingling sensation in your toes
If the foot pain lasts longer than a few days despite changing your footwear and modifying your activities, you should consult your physician.
Diagnosis of Morton’s Neuroma
Your doctor will do a physical examination of your foot and ask you how the pain started. He/she will put pressure on the ball of the foot and move the toes so as to see where exactly you have pain. Morton’s neuroma is normally diagnosed from a physical exam and the symptoms you’re experiencing, but to rule out other conditions, your doctor may recommend the following tests:
- Ultrasound or MRI to identify any possible abnormalities in the soft tissue
- X-ray to rule out fractures or arthritis
- Electromyography to rule out nerve conditions
Treatment of Morton’s Neuroma
Treatment for Morton’s neuroma usually depends on the severity of the symptoms.
Your doctor will first recommend conservative treatments such as:
- Using foot pads or arch supports for the shoes to help in relieving the pressure on the affected nerve
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or pain killers to help with the pain
- Resting your foot
- Applying ice to sore areas
- Physical therapy
- Massaging the ball of your foot
- Exercises to loosen ligaments and tendons and also to strengthen your toes and ankles
If the conservative treatments will not help, your doctor may suggest:
- Injections: Steroid injection into the painful areas
- Decompression surgery: This involves relieving the pressure on the nerve by cutting nearby structures such as the ligament which binds some of the bones in the front foot.
- Removal of the nerve: This involves surgical removal of the growth if the other treatments fail to provide relief.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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