Have you noticed pain near the ball of your foot when you walk? You might have a condition called Morton’s neuroma.
Don’t worry, it’s not as serious as it sounds. Although it can be extremely painful and inconvenient, Morton’s neuroma is a swelling of the nerve between your metatarsal bones (your toes).
It’s noncancerous and, in terms of your health, not dangerous at all. However, it can make your day-to-day life much more difficult and uncomfortable than it needs to be, so it’s still important to treat it.
Outlined below is a guide to everything you need to know about this condition, including the causes, symptoms, treatment, and recovery.
Morton’s neuroma is more common in women than men because one of the primary causes of this condition is high-heeled shoes.
When you wear high-heeled shoes, you’re essentially walking on the balls of your feet all day, every day. This increased compression causes the tissue around the nerve between your toes to become irritated and thicken.
It’s the thickening of the nerve that causes you pain, and the more pressure you put on it, the more painful it will become.
Now, you can still develop Morton’s neuroma, even if you’ve never worn high-heeled shoes before. If you have an abnormal gait or slightly misshapen foot, you’re at risk of the condition.
Those with flat feet, bunions, high arches, and hammer toes are at higher risk. Additionally, those who play repetitive sports, such as tennis or running, and those who take part in activities that require abnormally tight shoes, like skiing and ballet.
As mentioned above, the main symptom of Morton’s neuroma is intermittent pain in the foot that worsens with pressure. Common complaints are a burning sensation and feeling as though you’re walking with a pebble in your shoe.
Those with Morton’s neuroma might also experience numbness or tingling of the toes and difficulty walking.
Because this condition is due to the swelling of a nerve, you might think that you’ll be able to see swelling in your foot. However, because your nerves are so small, there won’t be any visible signs of swelling.
It’s also possible that you don’t have any symptoms at all. In a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, it was found that 33% of people with the condition didn’t feel any pain or discomfort whatsoever.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, there are various treatment options your doctor could recommend. It’s likely that he or she will give you a graduated treatment plan. This means you’ll begin with conservative options and, if those don’t work, move on to more aggressive treatments.
Conservative treatment is a great place to start for most conditions, including Morton’s neuroma. If you can be cured through natural means, it’s always better than surgery or other aggressive options.
The first conservative treatment option involves the simple addition of arch supports or foot pads into your shoes. Relieving some of the constant pressure placed on your feet by your shoes can be enough to resolve the issue. You can find these inserts at any drug store, but you might be prescribed a set custom made for your feet.
In addition to the extra padding and support, your doctor might recommend over the counter pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
These are just two of the most common conservative treatment options. Others include physical therapy, stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, rest, and massage. To learn more about the exercises you can do at home to relieve pain caused by Morton’s neuroma, take a look at this guide from thefootdocaz.com.
If the above methods don’t relieve your pain, there are more invasive treatments your doctor could recommend. The first is an injection of corticosteroids anti-inflammatory medication into your foot. Injecting a local anesthetic can also be done to numb the affected area temporarily.
Alcohol sclerosing injections are also an option. These can provide short-term relief; however, they don’t often cure the condition completely.
If injections don’t work either, you will have to consider surgery. There are three common types of surgery for Morton’s neuroma. These include a neurectomy, cryogenic surgery, and decompression surgery.
In the case of a neurectomy, a surgeon will remove part of the affected nerve tissue. Cryogenic surgery, or cryogenic neuroablation, involves killing the damaged nerves by freezing them. Finally, if you receive decompression surgery, the ligaments and other structures around the nerve will be cut to relieve pressure.
Your recovery time will depend on the severity of your condition and the treatment option decided upon by you and your doctor.
For some people, not wearing high heels and putting supportive inserts into their shoes is enough to provide immediate relief. Those who require surgery, on the other hand, can typically expect a recovery period of 1 to 6 weeks.
Additionally, with surgery, you’ll need to limit activities and sit with your foot elevated as often as you can to promote healing. Those who sit for most of the day at work will be able to return to their normal life much quicker than those whose jobs require standing or walking.
Start Treating Your Morton’s Neuroma Today
If you believe that you have Morton’s neuroma, set an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to confirm your suspicions. From there, you’ll be able to design a treatment plan that frees you from pain and gets you back on your feet in no time.
In order to prevent a recurrence, you might have to say goodbye to tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes. But that’s a small price to pay for pain-free standing and walking.
For more health and wellness advice and information, take a look at our blog!