Morton's Neuroma Treatment
Morton’s neuroma is a condition that causes pain in the ball of the foot. It typically occurs between the third and fourth toes. It is caused by a thickening of the tissue around the nerves that lead to your toes. The pain can be debilitating, but there are treatments available.
If you are experiencing this pain, perhaps the first thing to do is to think about your footwear. Do you wear high heels regularly? Do your shoes fit well or do they squeeze your toes? Ill fitting shoes can cause a number of problems from bunions to hammer toes, but they have also been linked to Morton’s neuroma. If your shoes are tight and you are having foot pain, an easy first step is to change your shoes. Your shoes should have a roomy toe-box that allows your toes to sit naturally, without pointing inward or pressing against the front of the shoe. If pain still persists, it is also important to see a doctor as there are many conditions that can cause foot pain and it is important to get the proper diagnosis before pursuing treatment.
Not all treatments for Morton’s neuroma are invasive. There are several non-surgical options out there. Perhaps the most accessible option is over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Motrin. Along with rest and time off your feet, this may ease the symptoms of a mild case.
Inflammation can also be reduced with regular ice baths, though this may not be practical for someone who must be in an office or on a job-site all day.
If you are able experiencing consistent and chronic pain, a doctor may recommend an injection at the site of pain. A steroid injection may help to reduce inflammation and reduce pain as well as provide more sustained relief than the options mentioned above.
Severe and chronic cases of Morton’s neuroma may need to be treated with surgery. Decompression surgery is used to decrease the pressure on the affected nerve by cutting the tension on surrounding ligaments. This is not unlike surgeries done for carpal tunnel syndrome in that more space is being created around the affected area by cutting ligaments. One thing to keep in mind is that, while this can be effective for some time, the new cuts may also result in additional scar tissue. If the habits that caused your Morton’s neuroma in the first place are not changed, it is possible that the symptoms recur down the road.
The most extreme surgery is to remove the affected nerve altogether. While this is generally effective and permanent, you are removing a nerve and therefore removing its function. The result may include numbness in the toe that the nerve was associated with, though that might be an acceptable trade-off for someone suffering with chronic foot pain.
Prevention seems so important here. If you have a high heel habit now may be a good time to think about changing out your shoes. If you just can’t part with the style you can try using inserts that redistribute the pressure felt by the ball of the foot such as Protalus’s model H-75. Otherwise you may find that the shoes will get on your nerves...literally.