If you have pain in the ball of your foot that radiates to your toes, you might have Morton's neuroma. A neuroma occurs anywhere in your body when irritation causes a thickening of nerve tissue. With Morton's neuroma, the thickening occurs on the nerve in your foot that's in the area of your middle toes. Here's a look at the symptoms and treatments for this foot condition.
Symptoms of Morton's Neuroma
Because the nerve tissue in your foot is thick and swollen when you have a neuroma, it may feel like you have something under the skin, especially when you walk. It may feel like you're walking on a pebble. This causes pain in the ball of your foot that runs up to your toes. When you wear shoes, it may feel like you have a rock in your shoe or like your sock is bunched up under your foot. You could also feel burning and tingling in your toes, or your toes could be numb.
A podiatrist will press around on your foot to feel for thickening of the nerve tissue when trying to diagnose your condition. Some things he or she will want to rule out include a fractured bone and arthritis. You may need to have an ultrasound, MRI, or X-ray of your foot so the podiatrist can look for signs of abnormalities in your bones, muscles, and tissues.
Treatments That Can Help
Morton's neuroma is caused by chronic nerve compression and irritation. One primary cause of that is wearing tight shoes. If you wear shoes with a tight toe area, the bones in your toes will compress the nerve and cause it to swell and eventually thicken. Also, wearing high heels has the same effect since elevated heels causes your toes to be forced into the toes of your shoes. Therefore, the first step in treating Morton's neuroma is to change your shoes. Choose flat shoes with a wide toe area.
Your podiatrist may also prescribe foot inserts for your shoes. The inserts pad your arches and provide support that decreases the compression on your nerve. You may also need to limit your activities until your nerve heals. High impact sports that require you to land on the ball of your foot can irritate the nerve. If that's the case with you, you may need to rest your foot and hold off on sports activities until your nerve is on the mend.
Steroid injections may also help. These reduce swelling, which can help reduce pain. Massaging your toes may help with pain too, especially if you rub the bottom of your foot and toes with an ice cube. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Surgery is considered when all other forms of treatment have failed to give you relief from pain and discomfort. The surgery is done to decompress the nerve. This could involve removing scar tissue or cutting a ligament that's binding bones together too tightly.
If you're experiencing the symptoms of this foot condition, you should see a podiatrist for an examination. With proper treatment, the condition will heal over time. However, if you don't treat your neuroma, and the irritation continues, you could develop permanent changes to your foot that leave you with chronic pain.