Morton's Neuroma: Striking a Nerve

Dr. Robert Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Morton's Neuroma in the ball of the foot. Think of how you feel when you hit your funny bone. Your whole arm starts buzzing and your fingertips go numb. That uncomfortable feeling is the result of literally striking a nerve. Now imagine that nerve staying pinched. It would be highly uncomfortable! Pinched nerves can happen anywhere, including in the feet, giving rise to issues like Morton’s neuroma.

When Nerves Feel Pinched and Aggravated

Nerves are responsible for your ability to physically feel anything, from temperature to pressure to pain. They’re also responsible for receiving messages from the brain to direct muscles to move and respond. Since nervous tissue is responsible for so much in your body, you have nerves everywhere to allow you to feel and move, including all through your feet.

Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that develops when one of the nerves in the ball of your foot gets pinched or compressed between your metatarsal bones. While it can affect any of the nerves between your metatarsals, you usually find this condition between the third and fourth toes. Being pinched aggravates the tissue and causes swelling and irritation. Technically speaking, this is slightly different from a true neuroma, which is a lump or small tumor of nervous tissue that grows when the nerve is compressed and irritated. However, the pain is similar.

You develop a tingling or burning pain in the ball of your foot that tends to worsen when you put pressure on it. Some people complain that they feel like they’re standing on a small stone or a wrinkle in their socks. The discomfort may radiate into your toes. You might develop numbness in the forefoot as well. Generally the symptoms begin gradually, then worsen over time as the nerve damage becomes more and more serious. Eventually the injury can create permanent issues.

Treating Morton's NeuromaHow You Pinch Your Nerves

Anything that puts too much pressure on the forefoot can lead to this kind of ball of the foot pain. Preexisting issues, like hammertoes or bunions, may contribute to the condition. Activities with lots of repetitive pounding and hard impacts, such as running and sports played on hard surfaces, may play a role as well. Shoes are common culprits, too. High heels force more of your body weight onto the ball of your foot. Footwear with narrow or pointed toe boxes compress the toes and metatarsals, making it more likely a nerve will get pinched.

Relief for the Feet

Nerve damage of any kind can become permanent if it’s not treated. On the other hand, conditions like Morton’s neuroma can be treated conservatively and offer you real relief. Dr. Robert Parker will carefully examine your foot to diagnose your condition. Our staff may use diagnostic images to rule out other foot issues, like stress fractures. Then we’ll help you establish a targeted treatment plan.

Conservative methods are used first. Changing your shoes may help make a difference. Use models with wide toe boxes and rounded ends. Avoid high heels and look for footwear with padded soles. Adding a metatarsal pad under the sensitive nerve may help. Custom orthotics may help you as well, particularly if you have foot deformities or biomechanical problems that contribute to the issue. We might recommend certain pain medications, or even direct injections of medicine. If the condition is particularly painful, and isn’t alleviated by conservative methods, you might need surgery to decompress or entirely remove the damaged section.

You don’t have to learn to live with ball of the foot pain from Morton’s neuroma. You can take of the problem and alleviate your pain. Let Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX, help. Make an appointment with us to restore your lower limbs. Call (281) 497-2850 or use our website to reach us.

True Neuroma treatmentTreatment of a true neuroma