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Morton's Neuroma

  • Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Morton's neuroma facts

  • Morton's neuroma is a swollen, inflamed nerve in the foot.
  • Morton's neuroma causes a "burning" sharp pain on the bottom of the foot.
  • Treatments for Morton's neuroma include resting the foot, better-fitting shoes, anti-inflammation medications, ice packs, and operation.

What is Morton's neuroma?

A neuroma is growth (benign tumor) that arises in nerve cells. A Morton's neuroma is a swollen, inflamed nerve located between the bones at the ball of the foot. The most common location of a Morton's neuroma is in either the second or the third spacing from the base of the big toe.

What causes a Morton's neuroma?

A Morton's neuroma is caused by compression of the nerve of sensation between the ends of the metatarsal bones at the base of the toes.

What are risk factors for developing a Morton's neuroma?

Improper footwear that excessively binds the forefoot can lead to a Morton's neuroma.

What are symptoms of a Morton's neuroma?

A Morton's neuroma causes a "burning" sharp pain and numbness on the bottom of the foot in the involved area, and this pain and numbness can radiate to the nearby toes. The pain is usually increased by walking or when the ball of the foot is squeezed together and decreased with massaging. It may force a person to stop walking or to limp from the pain.

How do health care professionals diagnose a Morton's neuroma?

The diagnosis of a Morton's neuroma can usually be made by the doctor when the history of pain suggests it and the examination elicits the symptoms. The foot is generally tender when the involved area is compressed and symptoms of pain and sometimes tingling can be elicited when the sides of the foot are squeezed. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound testing can be used to confirm the diagnosis if necessary.

What are treatment options and home remedies for a Morton's neuroma?

Symptoms of a Morton's neuroma can completely resolve with simple treatments, such as resting the foot, better-fitting shoes, anti-inflammation medications, and ice packs. More rapid relief of symptoms can follow a local cortisone injection. Symptoms can progressively worsen with time. For those with persistent symptoms, the swollen nerve tissue is removed with a surgical operation.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for a Morton's neuroma?

The outlook for a Morton's neuroma depends on the structure of the foot and whether or not simple treatments are effective. Conservative treatments include optimal footwear, cortisone injection, and resting the foot. When surgery is performed, the outlook depends on how much residual nerve damage exists.

Is it possible to prevent a Morton's neuroma?

Wearing proper footwear that minimizes compression of the forefoot can help to prevent the development of and aggravation of a Morton's neuroma.

Reviewed on 4/18/2018

REFERENCES:

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 2000.

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