Summary of Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is a condition in the foot where the patient feels pain between the third and fourth toes. Whilst the cause of the problem is not fully understood, ill-fitting shoes, foot alignment and overuse in sports are possible contributing factors.
Morton’s Neuroma FAQ's
Morton’s neuroma is a common and painful condition affecting the base of the toes, usually the third and fourth toes. The pain is sharp and sever and will suddenly set-in while walking, because the nerve that divides the bones of each toe becomes irritated or compressed. Anyone can develop Morton’s neuroma, but the condition is much more common in women who wear high-heeled shoes, people who regularly do sports or those who have a particular foot shape, such as a high arch or a flattened foot.
The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma get progressively worse with time with pain being the most common symptom. This pain is described by patients as both sharp or dull pain between the toes (usually the third and fourth toes) and is reported to occur while walking. Keeping the weight off your feet or rubbing your foot can lessen the pain, while waring tight shoes tends to make the pain worse.
About a quarter of sufferers manage to overcome the condition without the need for surgery, with symptoms being controlled by local anaesthetic and footwear modification. Of those who opt for surgery, three quarters are successful.
The cause of the condition is not exactly known, but it may be the toe bones compressing the nerve, when the gap between the toes is narrow, causing the nerve to thicken. This can be aggravated or made worse by high heeled shoes that force the toes closer together, or sporting activities that place extra pressure on the feet and toes. High-arched or flat foot, a bunion (bony swelling at the base of the toe) or a hammer toe (where the toe is bent at the middle joint) can also all increase the chance of Morton’s neuroma occurring as they can cause the bones in your feet to rub against a nerve.
Simple treatments tend to work on many cases, including footwear adjustments and physical therapy. Exercise might be prescribed to help relieve the pressure on your foot, by stretching tight muscles and strengthening the small muscles of the feet. Local anaesthetic can be injected into the feet to deal with symptoms in some cases. Taping techniques to support the inner arch of the foot and / or the heads of the toe bones may also be applied. Surgery may be required for those who do not respond to home treatments.
The exact cause of the problem is not fully understood, making treatment difficult. If the clinician finds that the muscles of the foot are week, or that there is tightness of muscles which restricts full normal movement around the foot and ankle, then they will be keen to address this with appropriate exercises which must be performed if you are to relieve the symptoms.