A Primer On Morton’s Neuroma And How To Treat It?

Morton’s Neuroma also known as a Morton’s Metatarsalgia, is a condition that affects that plantar nerve and the ball of the foot. The condition causes the entrapment of the nerve, whereby the individual might experience issues such as pain and numbness. The complication is also commonly referred to as an Intermetatarsal Neuroma because it occurs between the metatarsal bones. Such problems can be relieved by putting on the appropriate footwear.

The neuroma occurs when the tissue around the nerve that exists at the toe thickens and leads to discomfort. Furthermore, the Morton’s Metatarsalgia most commonly affects the third and fourth toes. While the toe deformity is not necessarily serious, it can affect your ability to address your day to day goals. Fortunately, there are several DIY treatments that are useful for relieving the signs and symptoms associated with the condition. The best way to determine the nature of the condition would be to visit a certified foot professional.

Prognosis and Diagnosis

Most if not all Morton`s neuroma cases will resolve themselves with the appropriate foot care techniques. However, some people might have to opt for surgery as a secondary and effective option for solving the complication. Furthermore, the individual might also come across recurring symptoms even after the surgery procedure. In some cases, decompression of the nerve may occur, or the nerve might be irritable. People who opt for neurectomy and resections might have to consider the caveats associated with the recovery process. Using the proper methods is crucial in promoting optimal recovery results for the affected area.

When you visit the foot specialist, be ready to inform them about the specific nature of your foot health issue. For instance, consider offering information on when you first experienced the condition, your footwear preferences, and your level of physical activity. Furthermore, the doctor might have to press around the affected area to determine the level of pain and nerve damage. If you hear any unusual clicks around the affected area, then it is most likely a sign of the neuroma. In this case, conducting tests such as X-rays and MRIs might be beneficial in the treatment process for such conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Morton’s neuroma are many. Usually, the first sign of the condition includes pain when exposed to large amounts of weight. The intensity of the pain will vary in relation to the nature of the complication. For instance, some people might experience pain affecting the structures in the toes. Other people might experience pains such as walking on sharp objects. Some other side effects of the condition include numbness and burning. The symptoms will also progress over time, usually starting with a unique sensation around the ball of the foot structure. The commonly used technique to diagnose the condition involves the use of MRI techniques.

Pain is the first tell-tale sign of Morton’s neuroma. The individual might come across a burning like sensation around the ball of the foot.  Most people explain to be similar to the experience when one “stands on a razor.” Furthermore, the toes might also experience numbness, as the pain increases to the other areas of the foot. However, the condition is not often accompanied by symptoms such as swelling or redness around the affected area.  Broadly speaking, you might experience the following complications when you have Morton’s Metatarsalgia:

  • Tingling, numbness and a burning sensation – these unique sensations occur due to the compromised nature of the affected muscles and nerves
  • A feeling of discomfort around the ball of the foot – the pain might also arise when you wear tight shoes that are not comfortable
  • Decreased motor ability around the affected area – the condition most often affects toes that are responsible for normal movement

Morton’s neuroma will most often follow a specific path of progression. These might include:

  • The symptoms begin gradually – during the initial stages, the condition will occur when you put on shoes with narrow structures. More so, the condition might occur due to specific aggravating physical activities.
  • The symptoms might recede temporarily, especially when you remove the shoe. However, massaging the affected area and avoiding aggravation is vital in the treatment process
  • The symptoms will worsen gradually over time, and might even persist for a few days
  • The signs will also increase when the neuroma grows, and you experience temporary changes to the nerve structure

Causes

The common cause of Morton’s neuroma is wearing shoes that are too tight or using high heels. Usually, these shoes can affect the functionality of the nerves, thereby leading to irritation or compression. The irritated nerve might grow and thicken, thus leading to increased pain due to the pressure. Another common cause of the condition would be the gait abnormality, which can lead to instability complications. Morton`s Neuroma is commonly associated with issues such as:

  • Flat feet – The flat feet are a postural deformity that compromises the arch of the foot, whereby the entire structure of the foot comes into contact with the ground. Medical research has shown that close to 25% of the world’s population has an arch on both or either foot.
  • High Arches – the cavus foot is a health complication whereby the foot has a high arch. Due to the high arch, the individual might experience increased weight around the ball and heel of the foot. The condition increases, particularly when the individual stands or moves around. Furthermore, the complication can develop at almost any age, and it can also occur on both of the individual`s feet.
  • Bunions – bunions are toe deformities that occur around the joint that connects the big toe and the foot. In most cases, the big toe experiences a slight bend, and this can lead to some pain. The appearance of bunions occurs gradually, and it can be associated with complications such as arthritis.
  • Hammer Toes – otherwise referred to as contracted toes, these are deformities that can affect the ligaments and muscles around the foot area. The deformity causes the affected area to be permanently bent, thereby resembling a “hammer.”

When You Should See a Doctor

If you experience persistent and recurring foot pain, then you might have to choose a new type of footwear. More so, you might also consider stopping any physical activities that might affect the performance of the foot. The condition is treatable, and it often involves changing your footwear and foot care techniques. Left unchecked and the complication might lead to secondary nerve damage, which can be a severe condition. The doctor might ask questions relating to the nature of the foot and perform a physical examination as well.

The physical exam will involve placing pressure on the ball of the foot, as you move the toes to determine the origin of the pain. Furthermore, the doctor might be able to diagnose the condition by just using a physical exam and evaluating your symptoms. To rule out the leading cause of the pain, such as stress fractures or even arthritis, some imaging tests might have to be conducted. These tests can include:

  • X rays to evaluate for arthritis or fractures – the X rays are highly effective to determine any secondary complications associated with the occurrence of Morton`s Neuroma.
  • Ultrasound imaging to check issue in the soft tissue – using ultrasound procedures helps you to evaluate the structure and performance of the soft muscle tissue
  • An MRI test to identify soft complications – the MRI test is also useful in assessing any underlying issues around the affected area.

Morton’s Neuroma Treatment

The appropriate treatment method for the condition relates to the severity of the complication. The medical practitioner will often recommend a specific medical plan. This means that you might have to start with a conservative approach before you move to aggressive plans. Consider the following treatment options:

Conservative and Home Treatments

The conservative treatments for Morton’s neuroma might involve using essential solutions such as foot pads and arch supports. These are tools that help to relieve any additional pressure on the affected area. More so, you can consider using over the counter (OTC) products or custom inserts as well. The goal of using the custom inserts is to cushion the affected area from any large external forces and secondary issues. A medical health professional may also recommend OTC painkilling medication and anti-inflammatory drugs as well. Furthermore, you might also have to consider investing in the appropriate footwear. The ideal shoe for Morton`s Neuroma should be roomy or otherwise very comfortable, and it should have a wide toe box as well. Such a unique shoe design helps to provide improved space, thereby promoting optimal healing and recovery. Open footwear would also be a really great option.

Injections

If the pain persists, consider investing in the services of a health professional. These might include injections for corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medication into the affected area. You may also consider using a local anesthetic injection to numb the affected area of the feet. These are medications that may help to relieve the pain. More so, using medications such as alcohol-sclerosing have also proven to be highly effective in the past.

Other Non-Surgical Treatments

In some cases, non-surgical treatments are the only useful solutions for the Morton’s Metatarsalgia. Among some of the other conventional treatments to consider include:

  • Wearing the proper footwear – solving most type of foot deformities often starts with choosing the appropriate footwear. Therefore, avoid shoes with high heels or narrow pointed shoes, because they can compromise the positioning of the toes. You can easily find the appropriate shoes for the condition online and for affordable prices.
  • Place pads in the shoes – otherwise referred to as orthoses, these are useful for Morton’s neuroma in many ways. The pads help to protect the delicate nerve through the use of a soft pad that sits below the foot. However, placing the pad at the correct position is vital in the correction process.
  • Steroid injections – these are injections that help to relieve the symptoms associated with the condition as you recover. A specialist often conducts the process after procedures such as ultrasound scans. Using footwear modifications, along with the injections can be a highly effective solution for the problem.
  • Controlling your body weight – being able to maintain the ideal body weight is an important aspect of addressing the issue of Morton`s Neuroma. Relieving any added weight helps to relieve pressure from the affected area.

Surgical Treatments

If the non-surgical methods are not feasible, then an operation on the affected area might be required. The surgery will involve the placing specific incisions on the top of the sole of the foot. The medical professional will cut out the affected nerve and perform a particular process of correction. If the nerve has damage, then you might experience issues such as permanent numbness. However, this should not pose a significant threat to your overall health. You might have to put on a specially made shoe for a few weeks after the surgery. Most surgical procedures for Morton`s Neuroma are successful. More so, there is a small risk of developing secondary issues such as infections or permanent foot damage. Other surgical options to consider include:

  • Neurectomy – this is a process whereby a section of the affected nerve tissue is removed
  • Cryogenic surgery – this process involves the process whereby the nerves are repaired using extremely cold temperatures which is also useful pain
  • Decompression surgery – this process involves releasing pressure on the affected area by rebuilding the ligaments and structures that exist around the nerve

Finally

Being able to look at things from a broad perspective is essential when you want to address foot deformities such as Morton`s Neuroma. The toe deformity most often occurs as a result of improper footwear and various other vital factors. As such, prevention and treatment will almost most certainly relate to the solutions that you apply. Unlike most foot health complications, surgery is always almost certain. This is mainly because the condition affects the internal section of the feet, where muscles and nerves exist. If you feel any discomfort, then going for a physical exam by a foot specialist might be the best place for you to start.

Sarah Shawman

is the webmistress of Footwear 4 Workers.

She started this website out of displeasure with the fact that there are so few good online resources especially dedicated to the 99%: working people. Having suffered from work related plantar fasciitis herself, she set out on a mission to help others.

She updated this page on and will continue to update it as time goes on.

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