Understanding Morton’s Neuroma


Neuromas are thickenings of nerve tissue that are the result of compression and irritation of the nerve. This compression creates swelling and enlargement of the nerve, which can lead to permanent nerve damage if left untreated.

A neuroma can occur anywhere in the body. The most common type of podiatric neuroma is a Morton’s neuroma. These are typically found between the third and fourth toes, but they may also develop in other locations.

Causes of Morton’s Neuroma

Your nerves are responsible for transmitting impulses to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from brain to the muscles and organs. In other words, they help you feel hot, cold, pain, pleasure, and every other sensation you might experience. A neuroma is a nerve defect resulting from compression or irritation. In the feet, the three most common causes of neuromas are:

  1. Pre-existing foot abnormalities such as bunions, hammertoes, or flat arches
  2. Repetitive irritation from years of athletic activity including jogging, running, or court sports
  3. Injury or other trauma to the foot

Shoes with high heels and/or pointed toe boxes force the feet into unnatural shapes that create pressure at the ball of the foot. Women who typically prefer such footwear are at particular risk of developing neuromas.

Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma

Be alert to any changes in your feet, especially persistent discomfort, tingling, burning, numbness, or a feeling like there is something inside or bunched up under the ball of your foot . All of these can be signs of a looming Morton’s neuroma.

The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma don’t usually appear overnight. First, you might notice an odd sensation only when wearing a particular pair of shoes or engaging in a specific activity. You might think that the shoes or the sport is the culprit, and make a change to prevent further discomfort. Eventually, the symptoms will become more pervasive and harder to avoid. As the neuroma enlarges and the temporary irritation to the nerve becomes permanent damage, your symptoms may become more intense or persist for longer periods of time.

Treating Morton’s Neuroma

After a thorough diagnosis, your podiatrist will determine an individualized treatment plan for your Morton’s neuroma. The sooner you see the foot doctor, the more likely it is that non-surgical intervention, including new shoes, orthotics, and medication, will be effective.  Surgery can be the best course of treatment when those options are insufficient.

It’s important to visit the podiatrist’s office as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with a neuroma. Call 410-224-4448 or click here to schedule an appointment with James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS in Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A.’s comfortable and convenient office on Solomons Island Road in Annapolis, MD. Dr. James M. McKee will bring his decades of education and experience to your examination and diagnosis, and will work with you to create an effective and individualized treatment plan.