What is morton neuroma?

Morton's neuroma: Overview

When your toes are squeezed together, often over a period of months or even years, the nerve that runs between the toes can swell and get thicker. This is called a Morton's neuroma. It may feel like a small lump is pushing inside the ball of your foot. When you walk or move your toes, you feel pain that sometimes moves into your toes. If the pressure continues, it may damage the nerve.

If you catch the problem early and change your shoes, the nerve swelling may go away. Your doctor may advise you to wear wide-toed shoes. Your doctor also may suggest that you ice the sore spot and limit activities that put pressure on the nerve.

If these steps don't help your symptoms, your doctor may have you use special pads or devices that spread the toes. This keeps them from squeezing the nerve. In some cases, you may get a cortisone shot to reduce swelling and pain. If these treatments don't help, your doctor may suggest surgery to relieve pressure or remove the swollen nerve.

Morton's neuroma

Morton's neuroma is a growth that develops on a nerve at the base of the toes. This benign (noncancerous) growth develops when a nerve becomes pinched between the toe joints, toe knuckles, and the shoe, and the constant irritation to the pinched nerve causes it to swell and grow.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain.
  • Numbness.
  • Cramping.
  • A burning sensation that spreads into the involved toes.
  • A lump between the bases of the toes.

Home treatment, such as rest, massage, and wearing roomy footwear, may help relieve symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

What are the symptoms of Morton's neuroma?

Morton's neuroma can cause a very painful burning or sharp pain in your foot that feels worse when you walk. It may feel like a small lump inside the ball of your foot. It is usually between the third and fourth toes, but it can also be between other toes.

How is Morton's neuroma treated?

The nerve swelling may go away with home care. For example, your doctor may advise you to wear shoes with plenty of room for your toes. The doctor also may suggest that you ice the sore spot and limit activities that put pressure on the nerve.

If these steps don't relieve your symptoms, your doctor may have you use special pads or devices that spread the toes. This can help keep them from squeezing the nerve. In some cases, you may get a steroid shot to reduce swelling and pain. If these treatments don't help, your doctor may suggest surgery.

How is Morton's neuroma diagnosed?

A doctor can usually diagnose a Morton's neuroma by doing a physical exam and asking about your symptoms. The doctor may also do an ultrasound, X-ray, or MRI to be sure.

How can you care for yourself when you have Morton's neuroma?

  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Avoid wearing tight, pointy, or high-heeled shoes. Instead, wear roomy footwear.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Try massaging your feet. This relaxes the muscles around the nerve.
  • If your doctor prescribed special pads or a device to relieve pressure on your toes, use these items as directed.
  • Until your pain goes away, try to avoid activities that make your pain worse. This might include things like running or biking.

What is Morton's neuroma?

Morton's neuroma is a swollen or thickened nerve in the ball of your foot. This can happen when your toes are squeezed together too often and for too long. This swelling can make it painful when you walk on that foot. High-heeled, tight, or narrow shoes can make pain worse.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.