Morton's neuroma is a swelling or small non-cancerous tumor on a nerve in the foot that runs along on the bottom of the foot into the toes. The neuroma is causes pain and numbness near the middle of the ball of the foot.
How does Morton's neuroma occur?
It isn't completely clear why Morton's neuromas develop, but it is likely that they form when nerves are pinched between the joints in the toe and the inside of the shoe. Morton's neuroma can also develop from high-heeled shoes (which may create bunions, put pressure on the toes, and hold your foot at an unusual angle), from repeated stress to the feet due to activities such as running or jumping, or from rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the signs and symptoms of Morton's neuroma?
Morton's neuroma causes pain in the ball of the foot when standing, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. This pain can feel like a numbing sensation, cramping, burning, or a sharp stinging pain. Morton's neuroma can sometimes be felt by runners after 20 - 30 minutes of exercise and is described as a numbing or feeling that something is caught at the center of their shoe such as a lump in their sock.
How is Morton's neuroma diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose Morton's neuroma after physical examination and asking questions about the history of the condition. X-rays can't be used to diagnose Morton's neuroma, but may be used to rule out other problems with the foot (such as broken bones).
How is Morton's neuroma treated?
The first treatments for Morton's neuroma include wearing shoes with wider toe bases to give your toes room to move, special shoe inserts (orthotics), or wearing a small foam padding between the toes in the tender area. To help prevent the pain and inflammation associated with metatarsalgia, your doctor may suggest that you ice the area a few times a day, take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen), and may recommend an injection of cortisone into the area.
Your doctor may also recommend at first that you restrict the activities that caused the pain, which may include running, brisk walking, and jumping. Activities such as swimming and biking are good substitutes for exercise while you are working to decrease the size of the neuroma.
In the most severe cases of Morton's neuroma, surgery may be necessary. This very effective surgery removes the neuroma and the nerve it is associated with. The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. It is common to experience a complete recovery in three to five weeks. Because this surgery removes a nerve, there will always be slight numbness between these toes.