If you have pain in the ball of your foot, you may have a Morton's neuroma. A Morton's neuroma occurs when the fibers surrounding the nerves leading to your toes begin to thicken in response to irritation. The thickened fibers compress the nerve, causing you to feel pain. When you first develop a Morton's neuroma, it's common for it to only cause pain when you're walking. However, leaving a Morton's neuroma untreated will eventually result in damage to the nerve, resulting in you feeling constant pain in the bottom of your foot.
Thankfully, Morton's neuromas can often be treated at home in order to prevent them from getting worse. To learn what causes a Morton's neuroma and how you can treat it, read on.
What Causes a Morton's Neuroma?
A Morton's neuroma is most often caused by repeated stress or irritation to the nerves in the ball of your foot. Runners commonly develop them, since landing on the ball of your foot with each stride will irritate the nerves.
They're also common in women who frequently wear high heels. Wearing high heels shifts more of your body weight towards the ball of your foot, which places stress on the nerves there.
Wearing shoes that are too tight can also lead to a Morton's neuroma developing in your foot. When your shoes are too tight, your toes are pressed together. This places extra stress on the nerves that lead to them.
How Do You Treat a Morton's Neuroma?
A Morton's neuroma can often be treated at home by avoiding the factors that caused it in the first place. Switch to wearing shoes that are wider in the toe area in order to stop them from being pressed together so tightly, and stop wearing high heels or running until your Morton's neuroma has had a chance to heal.
It's also a good idea to purchase toe spacers to relieve pressure on the nerves. These are small inserts that fit between your toes, keeping them spread apart. Spreading your toes apart relieves stress on the nerves leading to them, which helps your Morton's neuroma heal.
Unfortunately, a Morton's neuroma won't always go away. In severe cases, the nerve can become so damaged that it can't heal properly on its own. In order to treat your Morton's neuroma, you'll need surgery.
A podiatrist can perform two types of surgery for a Morton's neuroma. The first is a nerve decompression, in which some of the tissue surrounding the damaged nerve will be removed. This can prevent the damaged nerve from being compressed by the thickened fibers. An alternative surgery is a neurectomy, in which the damaged nerve is removed completely. This stops it from sending any more pain signals to your brain, relieving your Morton's neuroma pain.
What Should You Do if You Think You Have a Morton's Neuroma?
If you think that you may have a Morton's neuroma, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in your area. Your podiatrist will take an X-ray of your foot to rule out any other causes of your foot pain, and then they'll discuss your options for treatment based on the level of pain that you're feeling and your treatment goals.
If your Morton's neuroma has not become severe, your podiatrist can recommend orthotics to wear that help relieve pressure on the nerves leading to your toes. If your pain is severe or if you've already tried treating your Morton's neuroma at home, they can discuss your surgical options and help you decide whether nerve decompression or neurectomy is a better fit for you.