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What’s in a name anyway? The pain is the same.

Imagine you experience a sharp, burning, shooting, and sometimes radiating pain in the ball of your foot when walking.  Along with that, you may also notice that several toes feel numb when you touch them. That sounds horrible! You are unsure of how it all began. You don’t remember hurting your foot. But you keep checking your foot to see if maybe you stepped on something and it is still there. Alas, the skin is intact and there is no redness, discoloration, bruising or swelling. So what is going on there?

This may well be a Morton’s neuroma. It is a painful, benign growth around the nerve fibers between 2 adjacent metatarsals. It usually occurs between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals, but it can occur elsewhere. Sometimes it develops on one foot only, while others experience it on both feet.

There are several causes of a neuroma:

  • tight fitting shoes and narrow high heels that squeeze the adjacent metatarsals
  • foot deformities: either a high-arched or a flat foot structure
  • trauma to the foot

Treatments include:

  • Wear wide shoes with room enough to wiggle your toes with thick shock-absorbent soles
  • Avoid tapered shoes and extreme high heels
  • Add cushioned inner soles to your shoes for extra cushioning

Your podiatrist will:

  • Examine and diagnose your condition. A neuroma will NOT appear on an X-ray
  • May infiltrate a steroid into the painful area to provide relief of acute pain and inflammation
  • May prescribe anti-inflammatory medication
  • Will recommend wide, soft, cushioned shoes
  • May recommend an off loading pad or taping
  • May recommend custom shoe orthotics to improve improper foot function and reduce symptoms
  • May recommend surgical excision of the offending nerve, when conservative treatments have failed the procedure, which removes the inflamed and enlarged nerve, can be performed on an outpatient basis, with a recovery time that is often just a few weeks
  • Your podiatric physician will thoroughly describe the surgical procedures to be used and the results you can expect. Any pain following surgery is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist

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