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Morton's Neuroma


Disease: Morton's Neuroma Morton's Neuroma
Category: Neurological diseases
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Disease Definition:

The noncancerous (benign) growth of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of the body is called a neuroma. When it occurs in a nerve in the foot, often between the third and fourth toes, it is called Morton’s neuroma, plantar neuroma or intermatatarsal neuroma. A thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes is involved in this condition. It causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot. The toes may feel numb, burn or sting as well.

Morton's neuroma may occur in response to pressure, irritation or injury. This condition may also happen for unknown reasons.

Using arch supports or changing footwear are included in common treatment for Morton's neuroma. Corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary sometimes.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Usually, there's no outward sign of this condition such as a lump. However, the following symptoms may be experienced:


  • Numbness or tingling in the toes
  • A burning pain in the ball of the foot that may radiate into the toes

In the beginning, when one engages in activities that place pressure on the foot or wears narrow or tight shoes, the pain may worsen. However, over time, the symptoms may last for days or weeks.

Any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days shouldn't be ignored. One should see a doctor when experiencing a burning pain in the ball of the foot that is not improving despite modifying activities that may cause stress to the foot and changing foot wear. Whether Morton's neuroma or some other condition is causing the pain can be determined after examining the foot. The need for surgery can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment.


The cause of Morton's neuroma is not exactly understood. In response to injury, irritation or pressure to one of the digital nerves that lead to the toes, the condition is likely to occur. Part of the body's response to the irritation or injury is the growth of thickened nerve tissue (neuroma).

The following are the factors that may contribute to Morton's neuroma:


  • High-impact athletic activities that may subject the feet to repetitive trauma, such as jogging
  • Injury to the foot
  • Wearing shoes that are tight, ill-fitting or high-heeled, including those that box in the feet and place pressure on the toes.

Abnormal movement of the foot caused by excessive flexibility, hammertoes, bunions or flatfeet may result in Morton's neuroma in some cases, while there is no clear cause of irritation or pressure in other cases.





The severity of the symptoms is what treatment will depend on. Trying conservative approaches will likely be recommended first. Trying foot orthotics (arch supports), resting the foot, taking over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, and changing to better-fitting shoes are all included in this.

The following may be recommended in case conservative approaches don’t work, or the pain is severe or persistent:

Corticosteroid Injections:
Inflammation is reduced by steroids. Pain may be reduced by an injection of a corticosteroid medication in the area of the neuroma. People usually receive only a limited number of injections because overuse of injected steroids can lead to a number of side effects that may include high blood pressure and weight gain.

Alcohol Injections:
A new and promising treatment option for Morton's neuroma is diluted alcohol injections. Alcohol injections have been shown to improve pain and decrease the size of Morton's neuroma. However, many health care providers don't yet offer this treatment because alcohol injections are still a new therapy for this condition.

If other treatments fail to provide pain relief, surgical removal of the growth may be necessary. Because the procedure removes both the neuroma and the nerve, which can leave permanent numbness in the affected toes, doctors often turn to surgery as a last resort, although surgery is usually successful.


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