Morton’s Neuroma (also known as Morton’s neuralgia, Morton’s metatarsalgia and intermetatarsal neuroma) occurs when the nervous tissue near the base of the third and fourth toe becomes inflamed. The nerve that runs between the metatarsal bones is pinched by the bones, which causes the inflammation. Symptoms usually include pain, numbness, tingling and sometimes the feeling of a hard object lodged in the ball of the foot. At the early stages of the neuroma, symptoms may be directly related to wearing narrow footwear and will disappear as soon as shoes are removed. But further along in the trajectory of the condition, pain may last several days regardless of external triggers.
The treatment your podiatrist will prescribe for your Morton’s neuroma depends on how far your neuroma has developed. If your neuroma is still in the early stages, a series of non-invasive treatments can often relieve foot pain. Icing the foot regularly will reduce swelling. Padding your footwear can make a big difference when it comes to alleviating symptoms of tenderness. When you use padding, keep in mind that you want to direct pressure away from the metatarsal arch. This will reduce the amount of force exerted on the nerve and give the swelling a chance to go down. More sophisticated orthotics are also available to treat Morton’s neuroma. These orthotic devices are made out of silicone and provide excellent cushioning for the ball of your feet. Anti-inflammatory medication is often prescribed for this condition by your doctor and should begin working almost immediately.
Perhaps the most important treatment for Morton’s neuroma is a change in footwear. The condition occurs when the nerve is compressed, and this compression is often linked to shoes that pinch and cramp the feet. Shoes with narrow or pointy toe boxes should be avoided at all cost. Invest in shoes that give your toes room to move. Toe boxes should be both deep and wide. It is important to note that these changes in footwear should be considered permanent. Just because the pain and numbness go away, doesn’t mean you can go back to your pointy-nosed shoes. If they caused irritation of the nerve before, they will likely cause it again. This adoption of new footwear is a lifelong commitment (and your feet will thank you for it!).
If the above treatments aren’t successful, a podiatrist may need to administer injection therapy. This treatment requires the podiatrist to inject anti-inflammatory medication directly into the ball of the foot. If injection therapy is not successful, surgery may be necessary.