Morton's neuroma is nerve pain in the ball of your foot caused by thickening of tissue around the nerve between your toes.
It's also known as:
Morton’s neuroma usually affects the plantar digital nerve between the third and fourth long bones in the middle of your foot (metatarsal). It's a result of irritation, injury or excessive pressure causing the nerve to enlarge. This leads to pain in the ball of your foot that spreads to your toes.
It’s at least four times more common in women than men, and usually affects people in their 40s and 50s.
It can affect one or both feet. Morton’s neuroma symptoms can usually be alleviated without surgery.
If you have Morton's neuroma you’re likely to feel:
Your GP is likely to be able to diagnose your condition after feeling your feet to find the tender spot and asking questions about your symptoms.They may ask to move your feet and other joints to rule out arthritis or joint inflammation.
Your GP may refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist) or an orthotist, who provides devices to help mobility.
Occasionally, your GP may suggest either an MRI scan or ultrasound scan, X-ray or blood test to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions.
The exact cause is unknown, but it can occur because of:
Morton’s neuroma won’t simply go away by itself. Your GP or podiatrist may recommend some simple non-surgical treatments you can do at home to help.
They may recommend:
For around one in every three people, these treatments are enough to help them get better.
If the initial treatments don’t help and you’re in severe pain for some time, you may need to have surgery.
The surgery is known as Morton's neuroma excision. The operation involves removing the part of the nerve that's causing the pain. Another surgery is nerve decompression to increase the space around the nerve.