Morton’s neuroma refers to the swelling and inflammation of a nerve specifically between the metatarsal and the toes. A neuroma is nerve swelling caused by external pressure on the nerve. Some clinicians refer to this as a tumor of the nerve but this is incorrect. There is no tumor of the nerve at all, simply swelling of the nerve as a result of pressure from a ligament.
Morton’s neuroma symptoms include burning, tingling or numbness in the region of the toes. Quite commonly the third and fourth toes are involved although a neuroma also may occur between the second and third toe.
An orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle disorders will diagnose Morton’s neuroma by conducting a physical exam. X-rays, MRIs or ultrasound may be taken to help confirm a Morton’s neuroma diagnosis.
The treatment of a neuroma that occurs between the metatarsals (called a web space or interdigital neuroma) is to decrease the inflammation and pressure on the nerve. Morton’s neuroma treatment can include:
• Widening the shoe
• Avoiding a high heel
• Wearing a pad or orthotic support in the shoe
• Use of cortisone injections into the affected area
These treatments are often effective. If these conservative treatments fail to alleviate or eradicate the symptoms, then surgery with removal of the nerve is an option. By removing the nerve, the pain in the front of the foot and in between the toes invariably decreases, although there is numbness in between the toes which is permanent.