Morton’s Neuroma

What is Morten’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition of the ball of your foot. Although a neuroma is benign nerve tumour, Morton’s neuroma is not a tumour. It’s actually a thickening of the tissue around a nerve that goes to your toes. The area most commonly affected is between your third and fourth toes.

Morton’s neuroma is caused by irritation, excessive pressure or trauma to the digital nerve, which passes under the ligament that connects the bones in the ball of the foot.The factors that contribute to Morton’s neuroma are:

  • wearing high heels or other shoes that cause pressure at the front of the foot
  • high-impact sports such as running
  • foot deformities (eg bunions, hammertoes, flat feet or high arches)

Women are much more likely to be affected than men.

What are the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma?

The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma are:

  • a sharp and/or burning pain in the ball of your foot
  • a pain that radiates from the ball of your foot into your toes
  • numbness or tingling in your toes

Morton’s neuroma is often described as feeling like you’re standing on a stone in your shoe. There is no visible lump.

What does your doctor look for?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and about your general medical history and lifestyle (eg sports). Your doctor will also examine your foot, feeling for a tender spot, lump or ‘clicking’ between the bones in the ball of your foot.

What investigations are needed?

Your doctor may order X-rays to rule out conditions such as stress fractures and arthritis. An ultrasound can be useful for finding neuromas.MRI is occasionally used to determine the exact size and site of the neuroma to plan treatment.

How is Morton’s neuroma treated?

Treatment options include:

  • therapy (eg changes to footwear, shoe inserts)
  • medications (eg anti-inflammatories, steroid injections into the affected area)
  • surgery

Our specialists at Orthopaedic Clinics Gold Coast will work with you to create the best treatment plan for your particular situation.

Morton’s neuroma surgery

A combination of comfortable, well-fitted shoes and/or shoe inserts (orthotics) plus medication relieves the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma for most people. If other therapy failures to control your pain, surgery may be an option.

Surgery may involve:

  • decompressing the nerve by cutting surrounding tissues (eg the ligament that joins the bones at the front of the foot)
  • removal of the nerve, which relieves pain but can cause permanent numbness of your toes

Our specialists at Orthopaedic Clinics Gold Coast will discuss whether these procedures are appropriate for you at your visit.