What To Do About Morton’s Toe?

Morton’s Toe is a condition that affects the growth of the metatarsals in the body. The metatarsals in the feet are different in length. For most people, a smooth curve exists between the joints and the base of the toe. However, people with Morton’s Foot, the smooth curve often has an unusual bend as it moves through the bottom of the large toe. The main reason for such an occurrence is because the first metatarsal is physically shorter than its counterparts. The second metatarsal is more protracted, thereby placing the joint in a forward position. If the large toe and second toe are similar in length, then the second toe might grow longer than the larger toe. More so, if the second toe is shorter than the larger toe, the big toe may still grow longer, thereby leading to a small difference.

Some people might even report sharp pains around the affected area, mainly as the condition develops or during day-to-day activities. To diagnose the occurrence of Morton`s neuroma, you might have to enlist the services of a medical health specialist. The process will involve the application of pressure with one hand on the bottom section of the foot. The test is positive if the foot produces a knocking sound or some pain. However, if the physical exam is not successful, then you might have to conduct further testing such as an MRI.

Symptoms and Signs

The most widespread symptom experienced due to Morton’s toe would be the callusing, or discomfort at the ball of the foot. Usually, the first metatarsal head has the role of bearing most the individual`s body weight, especially during walking. However, when the second metatarsal has an overgrowth, then the excessive force would be transferred there. The individual might also experience pain in various other sections of the foot, such as the arch.

Morton`s toe is also a challenge for people who don’t wear the appropriate shoes. For instance, wearing shoes that do not provide sufficient space for the second toe might lead to the issue of foot pain. A recent medical study recently found no significant variation in the occurrence of longer second toes in people who either have or don’t have ingrown toenails. However, tight and improper footwear are generally believed to increase the likelihood of suffering from ingrown toenails. Tight shoes might also lead to conditions such as hammertoes.

What Causes Morton`s Toe?

Unlike most foot-related complications, Morton`s Toe does not occur due to ill-fitting footwear or even injuries. The main reason for the health complication is genetic predispositions. People with the condition most often grow up with the complication. However, when the second metatarsal bone in the foot becomes more extended than the first, then pressure during normal movement affects the toe. The condition places added weight on the next metatarsal, which later on, leads to various types of deformities.

People who wear high heels can also exacerbate the problem by placing the weight forward. As such, the body experiences significant pressure on the ball of the foot. Less often, Morton`s neuroma will occur due to physical activity such as walking, running, and more. The complication will start as an ache around the ball of the foot, along with some pain in the toes as well. Left unchecked can develop into serious foot and bone complications that might affect your natural gait.

Complications Associated with Morton`s Toe

The condition is not most cases harmless. That said, a significant portion of people with Morton`s Toe might come across several biomechanical complications. These complications might occur due to factors such as age and the uneven distribution of pressure around the foot area. The main difficulties relating to Morton`s Toe is that weight distribution might compromise the structure of the foot. The condition causes the foot widens, thereby causing the weight to shift from the first toe to the remaining toes. Using narrow shoes will often lead to metatarsalgia and neuromas, especially when these shoes are binding and will push your toes together. As a result, wide shoes are recommended for people who are prone to the condition. Among some of the other common complications associated with Morton`s Toe include:

  • Overpronation- pronation will occur when one stands, and it involves the level at which the foot rolls inward close to the arch. While a small amount of pronation is reasonable, any inward rolling of the foot can cause the foot to arch excessively, thereby leading to several injuries.
  • Pain in the ball of the foot- otherwise referred to as the metatarsal, the ball of the foot experience pain due to the increased levels of pressure around the foot.
  • Stress fractures – a stress fracture occurs in the ball of the foot when you experience extreme forces or expose the body to excessive weight
  • Hammer, claw and mallet toe – these are the common toe deformities that are associated with the complication of Morton’s Toe
  • Plantar fasciitis – it is one of the most prevalent causes of heel pain. The plantar fasciitis is often accompanied by issues such as inflammation and the development of thick tissue. The tissue runs across the bottom section of the foot.
  • Bunions – these are painful bony bumps that develop on the interior sections of the foot, particularly at the prominent joint. The bunions also develop gradually, and any pressure on the big toe can increase the likelihood of suffering from the problem.
  • Morton’s neuroma- Morton`s neuroma occurs when the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes thickens. The thickening can lead to sharp pain issues at the ball of the foot, and you might also experience compromised movement.

Aside to the high levels of risk associated with foot complications, people with Morton`s Toe are also prone to difficulties in the hips, back, and ankles. These complications might include issues such as pain, instability, and arthritis complications. Usually, improper footwear is a leading cause of the problem. For instance, shoes that have narrow structures cam squeeze the muscles and bones, thereby leading to inflammation or pain.

Treatment Options

The asymptomatic variations that occur in the feet will not necessarily require treatment procedures. The conservative treatment approach for foot pain might involve the use of particular forms of physical activity. More so, it might also include placing the foot under a pad around the first toe and the metatarsal. Restoring the functionality of Morton`s Toe will include the use of proprioceptive orthotics, which can help to control various health complications.

Among some of the difficulties associated. The condition affects between 4.6% to 20% of the world`s population. The treatment options for Morton’s toe are vast, including conservative techniques such as wearing proper footwear. Moreover, it might also include invasive approaches such as surgery, which are considered as secondary solutions. The most convenient option would be a non-surgical process. These processes include:

Wearing Proper Footwear

One of the most critical steps in the treatment process of most toe deformities is to wear the proper shoes. The ideal shoe for Morton`s neuroma has a wide toe box area and arched heels. The foot specialist may also recommend the use of special pads under the foot. The pads help to spread the weight of the body, thereby reducing the pressure that occurs on the nerve. Using custom made devices that fit into the shoes, otherwise referred to orthotics can be useful. The orthotics help to address the structural issues and to reduce compression problems.

Pain Relievers

You can easily control the inflammation and relieve pain associated with Morton`s toe by using over the counter medications. The common ones include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and anti-inflammatory agents. You might also benefit by carefully massaging the affected area by using some ice for some few minutes. If the pain persists, then consider investing in a local anesthetic and corticosteroid to offer relief from the pain.

Pain and Discomfort Injections

The injections are often designed to help address the secondary issues that are associated with the condition of Morton`s Toe. The common injections to consider include:

  • Corticosteroid injections – this is a steroid medication that helps to control the inflammation and pain around the affected area. However, the number of injections is often limited, as the condition might be associated with numerous health side effects.
  • Alcohol-sclerosing injections – medical studies have also shown that alcohol injections can play a significant role in controlling Morton’s neuroma. More so, the studies also showed that the injections can help to reduce pain, and can be administered after one week.

Broadly speaking, the treatment process will relate to several factors. The main ones to consider include:

  • The severity of the symptoms – the nature of the condition plays a significant role in the healing process of Morton`s toe and associated complications
  • How the long the complexity has been present – being able to determine the duration that the condition has occurred can be crucial in selecting suitable treatment options
  • The effectiveness of DIY treatments – evaluating the effectiveness of DIY treatments helps to determine whether other treatment methods might be required
  • Genetic factors – it might also be useful to determine whether the condition has been persistent or present in the previous generations of the individual`s family

NB: Being able to detect the condition early enough will reduce the need for surgery. However, if the symptoms are persistent or are severe, then surgery will be a last resort.

Surgery

If other medical treatments have not been useful over the past few months, then surgery might be the only suitable option. The surgery process is often helpful but can lead to numbness, especially around the affected area. As such, you might have to consider other methods before settling on the surgical procedures. Foot specialists will recommend that several conservative methods are used for some few months before surgical procedures. In these cases, the surgery will occur through an incision that occurs at the top section of the foot.

A novel surgery technique for Morton`s Toe is referred to as an endoscopic decompression, and it helps to improve the recovery of the patients.  Most people who opt for surgical treatments are often satisfied with the final results of the process. However, since it is an invasive procedure, the treatment process might take several days before you can realize the best results. The surgery process involves the restructuring of the nerve, fibrous tissue, and the ligaments. The standard suitable surgical solutions include:

  • Dorsal approach – this process involves making an incision around the foot area. It will allow the patient to resume normal walking after the surgery, mainly when the stitches are not around the weight bearing section of the foot.
  • Plantar approach – the surgeon will make an incision on the flat section of the foot. During the recovery process, the patient might have to consider using crutches for some few weeks. The resulting scar can lead to complications such as numbness, which your doctor can address.

Inserts and Custom Orthotics

The inserts are products you can purchase in stores without necessarily having a doctor`s prescription. The inserts are often made using materials such as foam, plastic and gel. More so, the inserts are designed to fit into the conventional shoes. However, they are not made for custom and specific user characteristics. The inserts help to improve the arch support, and to provide improved cushioning for the heel, and around the toes. Furthermore, the inserts will also play a major role in making feet comfortable and reducing the symptoms of Morton`s Neuroma. The orthotics are also useful, only that you can only access them through prescriptions. To be specific, the orthotics are useful for correcting biomechanical issues in the foot. The biomechanical issues can affect the way in which you stand, walk and move around.

Overall

The range of toe deformities that can affect an individual are many and diverse. In particular, Morton`s Toe is a relatively harmless toe deformity, that can have several disadvantages. You may have to identify the condition early enough to ensure the best treatment outcomes. However, if the condition advances, then corrective surgery might be the only suitable option for the treatment procedure.

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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