Understanding Morton’s Neuroma: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

Imagine feeling like you have a pebble stuck in your shoe, but when you check, there’s nothing there. This discomfort could be due to Morton’s neuroma. Simply put, Morton’s neuroma happens when a nerve in your foot, the digital nerve that sends sensations to your toes, becomes irritated. This irritation can lead to pain and a range of unusual sensations in your foot.

Recognizing the Symptoms

People with Morton’s neuroma often find it hard to pin down exactly how it feels. Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness in the toes
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • A sensation similar to having a balled-up sock or small pebble in the shoe
  • Difficulty wearing shoes, leading to a preference for being barefoot

If you experience these symptoms, especially if they interfere with your daily life, it might be time to see a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist.

How Common is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is surprisingly common, affecting about 30% of people. It is significantly more frequent in women, who are eight times more likely to develop it than men.

Why Do Morton’s Neuromas Form?

The exact cause of Morton’s neuroma is still a mystery. However, certain factors can increase the risk, such as:

  • Wearing tight shoes or high heels
  • Engaging in activities that put pressure on the feet, like running, skiing, or rock climbing
  • Having foot deformities like bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet
  • Suffering from autoimmune inflammatory conditions that affect the nerves

Home Remedies for Relief

If you’re dealing with the pain of Morton’s neuroma, several home remedies can help:

  1. Padding: Using soft padding can reduce pressure on the affected area.
  2. Taping: Stabilizing the area with tape can provide relief.
  3. Rest and Activity Modification: Avoid activities that aggravate the nerves.
  4. Ice Packs: Applying ice can reduce inflammation and numb the area, easing the pain.

Choosing the Right Shoes

Footwear plays a crucial role in managing Morton’s neuroma. Here’s what to look for in shoes:

  • Wide Toe Box: Provides extra space to reduce pressure on the nerve.
  • Stability and Support: Help change the foot’s mechanics, relieving nerve pain.
  • Avoid Walking Barefoot: Use recovery sandals or slides to cushion the nerves.
  • Over-the-Counter Inserts: Inserts with metatarsal pads can offload pressure from the forefoot.
  • Rocker-Bottom Shoes: These can also help offload pressure from the forefoot.

Outlook and Treatment Options

Most people with Morton’s neuroma find relief through conservative treatments like anti-inflammatories, steroid injections, and shoe modifications. About 80 to 85% of cases do not require surgery. For those who do, a decompressive procedure, rather than nerve resection, 

can provide significant relief, allowing patients to return to normal activities with minimal downtime.

Early intervention and proper footwear in managing Morton’s neuroma are very important. If conservative treatments fail, surgical options can provide significant relief, allowing patients to return to their normal activities with minimal downtime.

By understanding Morton’s neuroma and its management, you can take proactive steps to reduce pain and improve your quality of life. If you have persistent symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult Wilmington Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Expert Contributor: Dr. Sharrona Williams