Morton’s neuroma is a condition that causes pain in the ball of your foot, usually between the third and fourth toes. This kind of neuroma develops due to pressure on the nerve that leads to your toes, due to a thickening of the surrounding tissue. Signs of neuroma include burning, sharp pain in your foot, along with stinging or numbness in your toes.  And, today, we’ll learn how to prevent this condition, or how to treat a neuroma if you already have one.

What Causes a Morton’s Neuroma? Woman grabbing ball of foot in pain due to Morton's neuroma

Many different factors can cause tissue enlargement around your nerve, leading to a Morton’s neuroma. In all cases, however, the reason a neuroma develops is because of pressure on your nerves. So, to prevent a neuroma from developing, you can try to minimize pressure on the balls of the feet. Here are some of the factors to avoid:

1.    Skip the high heels. Wearing stilettos shifts your body posture—and your center of gravity—and that puts more pressure on the balls of your feet. As we suggested earlier, high-heels aren’t the only problem when it comes to foot wear. In fact, if you wear narrow, pointed shoes with little room in the toe box (the kind that’s unfortunately back in fashion right now) you’re once again raising your risk for neuroma. Why? These shoes pinch your feet at their widest point, your forefoot, and that allows pressure to build up on the nerves that run through it.
2.    High impact sports. Whether you’re a runner or a skier, you could be increasing your risk for Morton’s neuroma. You see, these activities put tons of extra pressure on the balls of the feet. When it comes to running, that impact comes from the force of your feet hitting the pavement—so running on concrete is riskier than running on a treadmill or on grass. But why is skiing such a problem?  With this activity, the problem comes from those tight ski boots, that pinch your entire foot to keep you locked into your skies. As such, being careful when you engage in these activities can lower your risk for a Morton’s neuroma.

3.    Ignoring your foot structure. If you want to reduce your risk for neuroma, you can’t ignore other foot problems such as bunions or hammertoes. You see, each of these deformities can impact your foot biomechanics—that term describes how your muscles bones and ligaments work together when you move. In turn, altered biomechanics can put undue pressure on the forefoot, as can feet with low or high arches. As such, you can help prevent a Morton’s neuroma by correcting foot deformities, or by addressing imbalances with the help of custom orthotics.

Identifying Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma

When you have a Morton’s Neuroma, there will be no visible symptoms to identify the problem. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to feel this condition developing. As we mentioned earlier, a neuroma can cause burning pain in the ball of the foot, as well as in the toes. For some people, having a neuroma feels like walking on a pebble or marble. Others say that they feel like they’re standing on socks with wrinkles.

Now, the pain may not be constant. Instead, it’s likely to feel worse when you wear narrow shoes, which is why women often complain about ball of foot pain more than men do. Plus, high wearing high heels can also irritate a neuroma, putting women back in the line of fire once again.

Diagnosing Ball of Foot Pain

At our podiatry practice in Powder Springs Georgia, Dr. Alvin Cowans diagnoses Morton’s neuroma after a thorough foot exam. During that exam, he’ll look for tender spots in the ball of your foot, along with a noticeable mass, before delivering your diagnosis. In some cases, he may suggest an ultrasound or x-ray, in order to rule out other conditions that could contribute to pain in the ball of your foot. Then, following your diagnosis, we can review your treatment options for Morton’s neuroma.

Treating Morton’s Neuroma in Powder Springs, GA

When you’re dealing with a Morton’s neuroma, we can start treatment with minimally invasive options. Some of our patients feel better after we pad their shoes and fit them for custom orthotics, especially if we make sure you’re wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toe box. And plenty of support in the soles and arches.

Unfortunately, not every patient will find relief for ball of foot pain from minimally invasive treatments options. In these cases, you may prefer to seek relief from anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections. If you choose to treat ball of foot pain with injections, the steroids themselves will reduce inflammation for about two weeks. However, during that time, the combination of better foot wear and custom orthotics will remove irritating pressure from your feet. The result? By the time the steroids wear off, your neuroma should have resolved, and your relief should be long-lasting.

But what happens if conservative treatments fail to relieve your Morton’s neuroma pain? In these cases, you may need to explore neuroma surgery. With this procedure, Dr. Cowans will surgically remove a portion of the thickened nerve tissue. This will take pressure off the nerve that runs through your forefoot, relieving the pain, numbness and general discomfort associated with a neuroma. Still, following your surgery, you’ll face some disruptions to your usual activities while you heal. As such, we always wait to recommend surgery until we’ve tried less invasive treatment options.

Ready to say goodbye to the burning pain in the ball of your foot? Do you want to walk comfortable in your shoes, without feeling like there’s a rock stuck in there that just won’t come out? We’re here to help relieve your Morton’s neuroma. All you have to do is schedule a consultation with our podiatrist in the Lost Mountain neighborhood of Powder Springs. The sooner you come in for a visit, the sooner we’ll get you back on your feet—without the pain!


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