What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton's neuroma refers to a nerve enlargement that occurs between the toes, usually the third and fourth toes. This causes pain and thickening of the nerve tissue. When walking or playing sports the pain is often ‘electric’ in nature. Over time, the third web space may become numb.
What are the Causes of Morton’s Neuroma?
Compression or chronic irritation of this interdigital nerve is the main cause of Morton’s neuroma. Excess pressure exerted on the nerves due to the narrowing of the gap between the toe bones can cause thickening of the nerve tissue from scar tissue formation.
What are the Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s neuroma is more common in women than in men. The associated symptoms include:
- Burning pain in the ball of the foot (may also radiate to the toes)
- Numbness in the affected toes
- Inability to walk
Wearing high-heeled or narrow shoes squeezes the toe bones and worsens these symptoms.
How is Morton’s Neuroma Diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose Morton’s neuroma by examining your foot. Palpation of the foot between the toes may reveal a thickened and tender area. A foot X-ray may be ordered to rule out other bone disorders.
What are the Treatment Options for Morton’s Neuroma?
Early treatment is critical to relieve pain. Mild-to-moderate cases of Morton’s neuroma can be managed by conservative treatment. Severe cases of neuroma may require surgery.
The conservative treatment measures include:
- Resting your foot and applying ice packs on a towel over the inflamed area to reduce swelling
- Prescribing anti-inflammatory medications to help alleviate pain and inflammation
- Steroid Injection: done under ultrasound guidance in low dose may temporarily reduce symptoms.
Surgery is considered the last option if the symptoms fail to resolve with the conservative treatments.
Surgical treatment involves the release of the compressed nerve by its resection (neurectomy) or removal of the surrounding tissue. The nerve stump is buried into the soft tissue to prevent recurrence. Sometimes, two neuromas are present and if that occurs both can be resected.