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A neuroma is a noncancerous (benign) growth of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of your body. Morton's neuroma occurs in a nerve in your foot, often between your third and fourth toes. The condition involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. Morton's neuroma causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb. Also called plantar neuroma or intermetatarsal neuroma, Morton's neuroma may occur in response to irritation, injury or pressure. Morton's neuroma may also occur for unknown reasons. Common treatments for Morton's neuroma include changing footwear or using arch supports. Sometimes, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.
Causes of Morton’s Neuroma
Doctors don't understand exactly what causes Morton's neuroma. The condition seems to occur in response to irritation, pressure or injury to one of the digital nerves that lead to your toes. The growth of thickened nerve tissue (neuroma) is part of your body's response to the irritation or injury.
Factors that appear to contribute to Morton's neuroma include:
In some cases, Morton's neuroma may result from abnormal movement of your foot, caused by bunions, hammertoes, flatfeet or excessive flexibility. In some cases, there's no clear cause of pressure or irritation.
Signs & Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma
Typically, there's no outward sign of this condition, such as a lump. Instead, you may experience the following symptoms:
At first, the pain may worsen when you wear tight or narrow shoes or engage in activities that place pressure on your foot. Over time, though, symptoms may last for days or weeks.
Diagnosis of Morton’s Neuroma
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your foot. Because there's typically no outward sign of Morton's neuroma, your doctor will try to find a palpable, tender mass. There may also be a feeling of "clicking" between the bones of your foot. Your doctor may order an X-ray of your foot to rule out other foot problems.
Treatments of Morton’s Neuroma
Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor will likely recommend trying conservative approaches first. This may include resting your foot, changing to better-fitting shoes, trying foot orthotics (arch supports) and taking over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
If your pain is severe or persistent, or conservative approaches aren't working, your doctor may recommend:
When to seek Medical Advice
It's best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. If you experience a burning pain in the ball of your foot that's not improving, despite changing your footwear and modifying activities that may cause stress to your foot, see your doctor. He or she can examine your foot and determine whether Morton's neuroma or some other condition may be causing your pain. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the need for surgery.
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