Neuroma, also known as Morton’s neuroma, is a thickening of the tissue around a nerve that connects your toes to the rest of your foot. It causes pain in the ball of your foot, and is characteristically described as feeling like you’re walking on a marble.
It’s most common to get a neuroma between the third and fourth toes of the foot. While a neuroma may occur at any age, it has a higher incidence in patients around 40 to 50 years of age. Usually, non-invasive treatments are preferred, but surgery may be offered if they do not provide relief.
Symptoms of Neuroma
Symptoms you may experience due to Morton’s neuroma include:
- Pain in the ball of the foot that spreads to the toes
- Increased pain in the ball of the foot when you wear shoes or perform exercise
- Toe tingling or numbness
Causes of Neuroma
Neuroma may be caused by pressure on or irritation of one of the nerves leading to the toes, or due to injury to the nerve. Several factors may put you at a higher risk for neuroma:
- Wearing high heels
- Being a runner or playing sports that require tight shoes
- Other foot conditions like bunions, hammertoe, or flatfeet or high arches
What to Expect at Your Appointment
The podiatric surgeon will feel your foot to look for the mass where the nerve thickens. The neuroma may also be viewed using an ultrasound or MRI scan. Tests of range of motion or X-ray may be used to rule out other, more serious problems like stress fracture or arthritis.
Non-surgical treatments for Neuroma
The most common non-surgical treatments recommended for neuroma are:
- Changing the shoes you wear to wider, low-heeled shoes
- Orthotic custom shoe inserts
- Corticosteroid injections to reduce swelling or inflammation and relieve symptoms
Surgical Treatment for Neuroma and Post-treatment
Although non-invasive treatments for neuroma are preferred, surgical treatment may be offered if these do not provide relief. Your podiatric surgeon may suggest one of these procedures:
- Decompression surgery that involves cutting a nearby ligament to relieve pressure on the nerve
- Removing the thickened growth on the nerve
While surgery provides pain relief, it may cause permanent numbness in the toes near the nerve.
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