Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition affecting the ball of the foot and the base of the toes. It is caused by an irritated nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes, counting from the big toe.

Morton’s neuroma may make you feel as though you are standing on a pebble in your shoe. It may also cause a sharp, burning – sometimes likened to an electric shock. At a later stage, pain, numbness, burning and tingling sensations may radiate around the foot. The symptoms may appear and disappear periodically.

What causes Morton’s neuroma?

It is thought that it is caused when the toe bones press against the nerve, leading to a thickening of the surrounding tissue.

Running and playing sport can make the symptoms worse.

Wearing high heels and shoes that are too tight at the toe may aggravate the pain, as can other foot problems. These include:

  • Abnormally positioned toes
  • High arches
  • Flat feet
  • Bunions
  • Hammer toe

What can you do about Morton’s neuroma?

Common treatments involve wearing different shoes or using arch supports. Resting the foot, massaging the toes and using an ice pack may work for some people.

A podiatrist may also recommend anti-inflammatory painkillers or a course of steroid injections. Numbing injections, in which alcohol and a local anaesthetic are injected into the affected area of the foot, may also be effective.In extreme cases, when the condition does not respond to treatment, day case surgery may be needed.

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