Morton's Neuroma

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Morton's neuroma facts

Morton's neuroma produces symptoms of metatarsalgia or ball of foot pain.
Morton's neuroma causes symptoms similar to metatarsalgia, including ball of foot pain.
  • 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-inflammatory medications, ice packs, and surgery.

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 symptoms of metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot) that feels like a "burning" sharp pain and numbness that can radiate to the nearby toes. The pain usually increases by walking or when the ball of the foot is squeezed together and decreases with massaging. This ball of foot pain 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-inflammatory medications, and ice packs. More rapid ball of foot pain 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.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/24/2019
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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