When you first get diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma, most people want to know what the hell it is.
Let first explain the basics – what is a Nueroma?
What is a Morton’s neuroma?
A Nueroma is basically a thickening of nerve fibres that can occur in any part of the body. When we talk about “Morton’s neuroma” – this refers to the most common Nueroma that occurs in the metatarsal bones (the bones that link your toes to your central foot.) It was named “Morton’s” after a physician called Thomas G. Morton described the condition in 1876 (he actually got the cause wrong but the name stuck!)
It is believed that this Nueroma is caused by the local bones causing compression and irritation of the nerve causing it to swell and thicken. Left untreated this Nueroma can lead to permanent never damage!
The classic Morton’s Nueroma location is nerve damage between the 4th and 3rd toe – 80% of sufferers are affected here and 15% have damage between the 2nd and 3rd toes.
Morton’s neuroma Symptoms: How does it feel?
The most common signs of Morton’s neuroma is the following:
- Your foot tingles or burns and even may have numbness in areas
- The big one – Pain! Morton’s neuroma hurts real bad, this was the first sign that i noticed which eventually lead to my diagnosis.
- Sometimes people feel that there is something stuck in the ball of their foot – you might often check your shoe for an object or feel that your socks are hunched up.
The above symptoms are what early sufferers feel, however as the Nueroma progresses the following pattern is seen in sufferers.
The above symptoms start gradual at first but as it progresses they become more obvious and regular. Often in the very initial stage- you might only have problems when you wear very tight shoes or when performing feet heavy exercise.
You will find out that by massaging the foot, the main symptoms go away and by avoiding activities the symptoms are less pronounced.
However if left untreated the symptoms can become more intense and will persist for days or at worst weeks!
Why does Morton’s neuroma occur?
Morton’s Nueroma is commonly found among Middle aged women and there are a number of possible reasons for the condition occurring.
Here are the main causes of Morton’s neuroma:
- Wrong shoe choice
high heels are the worst culprit as they force the foot into a small toe box which puts pressure on the surrounding bones and thus inflammation of the nerve.
- Previous foot problems
Any person who has bunions, flatfeet, hammertoes or even really flexible feet is at risk for this condition. Foot problems lead to more intense pressure between the bones and over time lead to a higher risk of causing nerve damage.
- Sports damage due to repetition irritation
Any sport such as tennis or running that puts repetitive strain on the foot can lead to more risk of nerve irritation.
Accidents that break or cause damage to the foot can also be a risk factor.
Diagnostics of Morton’s neuroma
The easiest way to get this condition diagnosed is to visit a local podiatrist/ankle surgeon. Podiatrists work only with the feet and will be able to use a variety of tests to provide an accurate diagnosis.
It’s worth noting that like with any condition it’s worth seeing someone in the early stages of the condition. If treated early – there is far less need for invasive surgery.
Morton’s neuroma treatment options
When you first visit your podiatric surgeon they will base your treatment on how far your nueroma development is. Every treatment will vary depending on how severe you particular problem is.
As a Morton’s Nueroma sufferer I have been able to research every possible treatment and will use this blog to share this information with my readers.
This involves using a variety of supports to improve the arch of the metatarsal. It’s hoped that this will take pressure away from the nerve as it reduces the compression in the foot.
A common but effective treatment that you can do at home is placing ice on the foot. The cold helps to reduce swelling and thus reduce compression within the foot.
If you are diagnosed early – you may be able to reduce the amount of pressure on your foot by modifying your activities. You might have to swap your daily run to exercise that puts less pressure on the foot such as swimming.
Your podiatrist may provide information on devices that can help to provide support to your foot that leads to reduced compression and nerve inflammation. You will be able to find a list of common devices in a later blog post.
Change of Footwear
As i mentioned earlier – shoes that compress your feet are the main causes for of this condition. By only using shoes that have a wide area for your feet – you can help to reduce compression and inflammation. There is also a variety of shoes on the market that some patients have found effective and reducing compression. In later posts i will research if shoes like the sketchers shape up shoes and Vibram five fingers can help or not.
If the above techniques lead to no improvement – then one options is the use of injection therapy.
Morton’s neuroma surgery
Surgery is seen as last resort attempt to provide relief to Morton Nueroma sufferers. Surgery usually takes the form of removing the nerve or releasing it to ease pressure.
However even after surgery – patients need to work with their Podiatrist to use long-term measures to make sure the condition does not return. These measures often include changing footwear and reducing problematic activities.