16 Jan What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s neuroma is the most common cause of neuroma that develops in the foot. It involves the thickening of the skin around the nerves of the third and fourth toe. While it is a benign growth, it can cause an extreme amount of pain and discomfort that can greatly diminish a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can greatly help those suffering from the condition. While it is not entirely understood why the thickening occurs, there is thought it may be due to high heeled shoes, since switching to lower heels typically helps lessen symptoms.
Those who suffer from Morton’s neuroma will notice nothing physically wrong with their foot. However, they may feel sensations such as constantly standing on a pebble, burning pain in the ball of the foot that radiates to the toes, or a tingling or numbness in the toes. The main suspected causes of Morton’s neuroma include wearing high heels, sports that are high impact on the feet, and various foot deformities such as flat feet, amongst others. These neuromas are diagnosed relatively easily through a physical examination by a physician, along with various imaging exams.
Treatment is typically focused on relieving symptoms. Each person who suffers from Morton’s neuroma may notice their symptoms differ from others. The first step is usually conservative and focuses on finding various inserts or foot pads to help reduce pressure on the nerve. Many patients opt for over-the-counter inserts because they are cheaper. However, custom made orthotics tend to have better results because they are specifically designed for the patient. Some patients may also benefit from physical therapy and manual manipulation of the foot. However, if conservative treatment options fail, surgery may be necessary.
Steroid injections are typically given as a precursor to surgery. However, this is not always effective. If nothing else has worked, patients must resort to surgery. Surgery for Morton’s neuroma includes nerve decompression, or in some cases, complete removal of the nerve. While surgery is typically effective and safe, it should still be avoided if possible because there is some risk, it can result in permanent numbness. If the patients can resolve the neuroma with at-home care, it is greatly preferred to surgical intervention. Patients can take over the counter anti-inflammatories, use ice, change out footwear, and take a break from physical activities.
While Morton’s neuroma is not life-threatening, it is uncomfortable and can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life. If all else fails, surgery to remove the nerve is usually a successful option. However, as is true with all surgical interventions, there is a level of risk associated with the procedure. Also, patients who undergo surgery will need to wear a special shoe for up to a month after surgery and will need to book a return appointment to have the sutures removed. Fortunately, Morton’s neuroma surgery is typically successful, and patients are able to make a full recovery and have a great quality of life after the surgery is performed.