Diagnosis and Treatment of Morton’s Neuroma in Wake County

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

A neuroma is an abnormality of a nerve. Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of either the nerve between the bones behind your toes or of the tissue that surrounds the nerve leading to the toes. This issue occurs as the nerve passes under the ligament connecting the metatarsal heads, which are the bones right behind your toes. Morton’s neuroma typically develops between the third and fourth toes. If you feel like you are walking on a marble or rock and you have pain in the ball of your foot, you may have Morton’s neuroma.

What Causes Morton’s Neuroma?

Women are 8 to 10 times more likely than men to develop Morton’s neuroma. Females are at a much higher risk because the anatomical construction of a female foot is different from a male foot. Female feet are inherently higher, narrower, and smaller – characteristics that cause increased pressure and strain on the toes. Additionally, wearing high-heels or pointed shoes can make Morton’s neuroma more likely to develop. Causes of Morton’s neuroma include:

  • Irritation from tight or narrow shoes, such as heels
  • Trauma
  • Excessive pressure on the toes

Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma

When Morton’s neuroma is present, runners may feel pain as they push off from the starting block. High-heeled shoes, which put the foot in a similar position to the push-off, can also aggravate the condition. Tight, narrow shoes compress the toe bones, pinching the nerve and making symptoms worse. General symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include:

  • Burning pain in the ball of the foot
  • Pain that radiates from the ball of the foot to the toes
  • Pain in the ball of the foot that intensifies with activity or wearing shoes, especially tight shoes or heels
  • Numbness in the toes

How is Morton’s Neuroma Diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will diagnose Morton’s neuroma by conducting a physical examination of the feet. Your physician may put light pressure on each space between the toes or ask you to stand and walk. It is important to inform your doctor about when you first noticed symptoms and what activity makes the pain and discomfort worse. If necessary, you may be referred to a podiatrist, who specializes in foot care. In some cases, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an X-ray or ultrasound to rule out other foot conditions.

Treatment Options for Morton’s Neuroma at Raleigh Orthopaedic

Nonsurgical Treatment

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Treatment for Morton’s neuroma always begins with conservative methods. Your doctor may suggest the following treatment techniques:

  • Changes in footwear: Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. Wear wider shoes with lower heels and a soft sole. This enables the bones to spread out and may reduce pressure on the nerve, giving it time to heal. Buying shoes that are one-half inch longer than your longest toe can also be beneficial.
  • Orthotics: Custom shoe inserts and pads also help relieve irritation by lifting and separating the bones, reducing the pressure on the nerve.
  • Injections: One or more injections of a corticosteroid medication can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerve, bringing some relief.

Surgical Treatment Options

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Over 80 percent of patients find relief from symptoms of Morton’s neuroma via conservative treatment methods. If conservative treatment fails, your Raleigh Orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist may recommend surgery to cut out a small portion of the nerve or release the tissue around the nerve. This is usually done as an outpatient procedure and requires protection of the foot for a few weeks after surgery.

Recovery Time After Morton’s Neuroma Surgery

Recovery from surgery to relieve Morton’s neuroma pain varies from person to person, and can last anywhere from several weeks to months. You will require a boot right after surgery to protect the foot and ankle. It is very important to rest during your recovery. If your doctor deems it necessary, you will eventually begin a physical therapy program to help support your recovery. Rest and physical therapy are the most crucial aspects of recovery from surgery, and they also serve to help you prevent additional injuries in the future.

Preventing Morton’s Neuroma

There are many steps you can take to prevent Morton’s neuroma from developing. The type of shoe you wear is essential to your overall foot health. Avoid wearing tight shoes or high heels for an extended period of time. Instead, opt for shoes with a wider area for the toes to prevent cramping or squeezing. Wearing athletic shoes that will cushion the balls of the feet when active can also help to prevent Morton’s neuroma. Exercise is also crucial – working with a trainer can help you to stay active while putting less pressure on the feet. Following a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight, can also help prevent Morton’s neuroma and a wide range of other conditions.

Learn More About Foot and Ankle Treatment at Raleigh Orthopaedic

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Your well-being is important to us. Raleigh Orthopaedic is Wake County’s oldest and most experienced orthopedic practice, serving the Triangle and surrounding regions of central North Carolina since 1919. We offer comprehensive foot and ankle care at several of our orthopedic clinics throughout Wake County. We want to help you tackle foot pain and get back to enjoying your everyday activities – give us a call to schedule an appointment with a Raleigh Orthopaedic physician or book online today!