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Morton's neuroma Symptoms, Signs, Causes and Treatments

Morton's neuroma is a condition that can have a significant impact on daily life. It is a painful condition that affects the nerves in the foot, causing discomfort and limiting mobility. This article will explore Morton's neuroma, its symptoms, common signs, causes, risk factors, diagnosis, and various treatment options available. By understanding this condition and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals can alleviate their pain and improve their quality of life.

By Able Health I Medically reviewed by Dr. Alireza Estedlal

Page last reviewed: February 2024 I Next review due: February 2026


  • Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of the foot.
  • Symptoms of Morton's Neuroma include sharp pain, tingling, and numbness in the toes.
  • Common signs of Morton's Neuroma include a feeling of a lump or thickening in the ball of the foot.
  • Morton's neuroma is caused by the thickening of the tissue around the nerves leading to the toes.
  • Treatment options for Morton's Neuroma include conservative measures, medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery.

What is Morton's Neuroma?

Morton's neuroma is characterised by thickening the tissue around the nerves leading to the toes. It most commonly occurs between the third and fourth toes but can also affect other foot areas. This thickening of tissue puts pressure on the nerves, causing pain and discomfort. The exact cause of Morton's neuroma is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a result of repetitive stress or irritation on the nerves.

Understanding the Symptoms of Morton's Neuroma

The symptoms of Morton's neuroma can vary from person to person but generally involve pain and discomfort in the foot. Individuals may experience a sharp or burning pain in the ball of their foot or a tingling or numbness sensation in their toes. Some individuals may also feel like there is a pebble or small object in their shoe, even when there isn't one present.

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Common Signs of Morton's Neuroma

  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Tingling or numbness in the toes
  • Burning sensation in the ball of the foot
  • Feeling like there is a pebble in the shoe
  • Difficulty walking or running
  • Worsening pain with activity
  • Relief with rest

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, several common signs may indicate the presence of Morton's neuroma. Swelling in the affected area is a common sign, as well as redness or inflammation. Individuals with Morton's neuroma may also have difficulty walking or standing for long periods due to the pain and discomfort.

What Causes Morton's Neuroma?

The exact cause of Morton's neuroma is unknown, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development. One common cause is pressure or irritation on the nerves in the foot. This can result from wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, which compress the toes and increase pressure on the nerves. High-impact activities like running or jumping can also contribute to developing Morton's neuroma.

Risk Factors for Developing Morton's Neuroma

While anyone can develop Morton's neuroma, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of its development.

  • Wearing high heels or narrow shoes, which put pressure on the toes and increase the risk of nerve compression, is a common risk factor.
  • Participating in high-impact sports like basketball or tennis can also increase the risk of developing Morton's neuroma.
  • Additionally, individuals with certain foot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes, may be more prone to developing this condition.

How is Morton's Neuroma Diagnosed?

To diagnose Morton's neuroma, a doctor will typically perform a physical examination of the foot and ask about the individual's symptoms and medical history. They may also order imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms and to get a better look at the affected area.

Conservative Treatments for Morton's Neuroma

In many cases, conservative treatments can effectively manage the symptoms of Morton's neuroma. Rest and ice can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Changing footwear to shoes with a wider toe box and lower heels can also relieve pressure on the nerves. Additionally, orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts or arch supports, can cushion the foot.

Medications for Morton's Neuroma Pain

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with Morton's neuroma. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or corticosteroids to provide relief.

Physical Therapy for Morton's Neuroma

Physical therapy can be beneficial for individuals with Morton's neuroma. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve flexibility and reduce pressure on the affected nerves. Massage therapy can also help alleviate pain and promote relaxation in the foot muscles.

Steroid Injections for Morton's Neuroma

In some cases, a doctor may recommend steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain associated with Morton's neuroma. These injections deliver corticosteroids directly into the affected area, providing targeted relief.

Surgical Treatments for Morton's Neuroma

If conservative interventions intervention may be necessary if it does not provide sufficient relief, surgical intervention may be an option available for treating Morton's neuroma, including the removal of the affected nerve or decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves.

Recovery Time for Morton's Neuroma Surgery

The recovery time for Morton's neuroma surgery can vary depending on the individual and the specific procedure performed. Generally, individuals can expect to return to normal activities within a few weeks to a few months following surgery. It is important to follow post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon to ensure proper healing and minimise the risk of complications.

Prevention of Morton's Neuroma

While it may not be possible to completely prevent the development of Morton's neuroma, there are steps individuals can take to reduce their risk. Proper footwear that provides adequate support and room for the toes is essential. Avoiding high-impact activities or ensuring proper footwear during these activities can also help prevent excessive stress on the foot. Maintaining weight can reduce pressure on the feet and lower the risk of developing foot conditions such as Morton's neuroma.

In conclusion, Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that can significantly impact daily life. By understanding the symptoms, common signs, causes, risk factors, and treatment options for Morton's neuroma, individuals can seek appropriate care and alleviate their pain. Whether through conservative treatments, medications, physical therapy, or surgical intervention, there are options available to help manage this condition. Consulting with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan is important. Seeking treatment for Morton's neuroma is crucial for improving quality of life and maintaining foot health.

What is Morton's neuroma?

Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of the foot, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is caused by thickening the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes.

What are the symptoms of Morton's neuroma?

The most common symptom of Morton's neuroma is a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, often radiating to the toes. Other symptoms may include tingling, numbness, or a feeling of a lump or small pebble under the foot.

What are the causes of Morton's neuroma?

The exact cause of Morton's neuroma is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by repeated pressure or irritation on the nerve. This can be due to wearing tight or high-heeled shoes, participating in high-impact sports, or having certain foot deformities.

How is Morton's neuroma diagnosed?

Morton's neuroma is usually diagnosed based on the patient's symptoms and a physical examination of the foot. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be ordered to rule out other conditions.

What are the treatments for Morton's neuroma?

Treatment for Morton's neuroma may include changing footwear, using orthotic devices, taking anti-inflammatory medications, or receiving corticosteroid injections. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected nerve.

Can Morton's neuroma be prevented?

Morton's neuroma may be prevented by wearing comfortable, properly fitting shoes with a wide-toe box and low heels. Avoiding high-impact sports and maintaining a healthy weight may also help prevent the condition.