Morton’s neuroma is abnormal disruption developed in the nerve fibers of the foot. It is represented by non-cancerous growth in the foot that may appear in the third or fourth digits of the foot. It develops more commonly in women who are in their middle ages. The causes of this condition include ill-fitted footwear, footwear with high heels or repeated injuries to the foot due to sports or exercises. Its symptoms include pain in the ball of the foot, burning, tingling, and numbness in the affected areas. It can be treated easily. However, if not treated properly and the footwear are not corrected, it may cause permanent damage to the nerves.
Treatment Modalities For Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is a thickening and swelling of nerve fibers in the foot. It usually develops in third or fourth toes. However, it can occur anywhere in the foot. It is also called intermetatarsal neuroma because of its location in between metatarsals roughly at the ball of the foot. The thickening of the nerve can be caused by compression or irritation of nerve fibers by adjacent tissues. It is more commonly seen in middle-aged women.
Morton’s neuroma treatment depends on the symptoms and its severity. The physicians start with a gradual mode of treatment that may be progressed to more aggressive treatment if the condition does not improve.
Conservative Treatment For Morton’s Neuroma
Most Morton’s neuroma patients improve with conservative treatment. It includes the following-
Shoe Modification- choosing correct sized footwear comes under the first line of Morton’s neuroma treatment. Ill-fitted footwear or high heeled shoes can provoke the condition more due to the excess pressure of the adjacent tissues on the nerves.
Arch Supports Or Orthotics– arch supports or foot pads can relieve the pain in the foot. It releases the pressure on the affected nerve. Orthotics is also beneficial for the treatment of Morton’s neuroma. Over the counter inserts or customs are prescribed to be fitted in the foot for this.
Medicines- painkillers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be given to reduce pain and inflammation of the nerve. These medicines help in reducing the swelling of the fibers.
Ice Application- application of ice packs on the affected areas can control the swelling of the nerve fibers and can reduce pain in Morton’s neuroma.
Rest- the foot should be rested for some days to avoid recurrent injuries. Every activity that can trigger pain in the foot should be avoided completely like participating in sports, excessive exercises, etc.
Physical Therapy– when all the above Morton’s neuroma treatment options fail to provide relief to the symptoms, then physical therapy is recommended under the supervision of a physiotherapist. Massaging the ball of the foot can relieve pain and swelling. Stretching exercises can loosen up the tendons and ligaments providing room for nerve fibers by the release of pressure of adjacent tissues. Exercises also help to strengthen the ankles and toes of the foot.
Corticosteroid Injections- corticosteroids are a temporary mode of treatment of Morton’s neuroma. These injections relieve pain and swelling in the affected area by blocking the supply of the affected nerve. A local anesthetic injection of cortisone is used for this purpose. However, these injections are prescribed cautiously as they have side effects.
Surgery For Morton’s Neuroma
When all the above treatment measures fail to provide relief, then aggressive treatment is recommended for Morton’s neuroma. The surgical treatment that can be used are-
Neurectomy- affected nerve tissue is removed in this Morton’s neuroma surgery.
Cryogenic Surgery- cold temperatures are subjected to the nerve fibers to kill them.
Decompression Surgery For Morton’s Neuroma- the ligaments or other structures that compress the nerves are separated apart to release the pressure on the nerve.
Morton’s neuroma is a benign growth of nerve cells of the foot. It is a painful condition that develops commonly in third or fourth fingers of the foot. It can be treated by anti-inflammatory medicines, corticosteroid injections, and application of ice packs, orthotics, and surgery.
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Morton’s Neuroma https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mortons-neuroma/symptoms-causes/syc-20351935
- OrthoInfo – AAOS. (2020). Morton’s Neuroma https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/mortons-neuroma/