Morton’s neuroma: what is it?

Morton’s neuroma is a pathology that affects the feet, usually only one. It is that there is an alteration in some nerve of the foot, which causes pain in that area. The most common is that it occurs between the third and fourth metatarsals.

Morton's neuroma

Although the name can lead to confusion, Morton’s neuroma is not a tumor. It is a fairly frequent condition, especially between 50 and 70 years. It affects women much more than men, almost 8 times more.

The causes of this injury are multiple. Interestingly, it seems to be related to the use of heeled shoes. Therefore, many times the treatment can simply be limited to a change of footwear, without using more aggressive techniques.

Morton’s neuroma can greatly affect the life of the sufferer, preventing walking or standing due to pain. Therefore, in this article, we explain everything you need to know about this pathology and how to treat it.

What is Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is an injury that occurs in one of the nerves of the foot. It consists in that, around that nerve (usually the one between the third and fourth metatarsal ), fibrous tissue grows and compresses it and prevents its normal functioning.

This fibrous tissue grows due to continuous stress in that area or nerve irritation. For example, when we run we put pressure on certain parts of our feet. When that pressure occurs repeatedly in the same area, it can damage it and cause the appearance of Morton’s neuroma.

The same goes for wearing heels. By continuously carrying the feet in that position, in which almost all the pressure occurs on a part of the foot, it is normal for the nerve that runs through that area to become irritated.

Morton's neuroma

What symptoms does it produce?

What first appears is an intense feeling of pain. It closely resembles the feeling of having a stone inside the shoe when walking. It is a mechanical pain, which increases by supporting this part; for example, when walking or standing.

In addition, it usually causes a tingling sensation in the finger that is affecting. It also causes burning in the sole of the foot or general numbness. Symptoms worsen or improve depending on the stimulation to which that part is subjected.

How is Morton’s neuroma diagnosed?

To diagnose Morton’s neuroma, the fundamental thing is to know very well the characteristics of the pain and the person suffering from it. With the clinic, it may be enough to arrive at the diagnosis, since there are certainly quite clear risk factors.

For example, it is much more frequent in women than in men. Similarly, the use of heels, being a professional athlete or having some malformation in the foot increases the risk of suffering this injury.

However, doctors may use certain complementary tests to confirm the diagnosis. First, x-rays are often used to rule out that there is another injury that causes pain, such as a fracture. Ultrasound is also used.

Morton's neuroma

How can the neuroma be treated?

Morton’s neuroma often does not need more treatment than choosing appropriate shoes. It must be well padded to allow more complete support of the foot. For the same reason, the ideal is to avoid high heels.

If that is not enough, painkillers and anti-inflammatories can be prescribed to reduce pain. Even corticosteroid injections can be made in the area to decrease inflammation.

On the other hand, if the pain persists and incapacitates the person, surgery can be performed. The objective is to reduce the pressure that exists on the nerve, eliminating the tissues that compress it. In very severe cases, the damaged nerve can be removed to avoid pain.

In conclusion

Morton’s neuroma is an injury that usually occurs in the nerve that runs between the third and fourth toes. It is very associated with the use of heeled shoes, sports that include running or foot malformations. Normally, the treatment is based on using better footwear and taking care of the health of the foot.