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What is Neuroma?

What is Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is a common, benign growth found between the third and fourth toes. You’ll most often hear it referred to as a “pinched nerve.” The main symptom associated with this type of neuroma is pain at the area of the growth and the ball of your foot. In some cases, you might also experience burning, tingling, or numbness. Some liken the pain to standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock. Untreated, this constant compression will cause the nerve to enlarge and may eventually lead to permanent nerve damage.

These types of neuromas are commonly linked to wearing high-heeled or tight shoes. Switching to lower-heeled shoes with wider toe boxes may relieve pain and prevent permanent nerve damage.


The most common cause of a neuroma stems from wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes with narrow toe boxes. But anything causing constant compression or irritation to the nerve can lead to its development.

People with other foot disorders like bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet and athletes whose activities require them to irritate the ball of the foot are more likely to develop a neuroma.


Symptoms of a neuroma usually develop over time with intermittent occurrences of pain occurring when wearing certain footwear or engaging in specific activities. You might find temporary relief by removing tight shoes, massaging your foot or avoiding activities causing pain to the affected area. But, over time symptoms will worsen and may even persist for several days or weeks. And as the neuroma enlarges, symptoms will likely become more intense.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have a neuroma.
• Pain in the ball of your foot between the third and fourth toes.
• Tingling, burning, or numbness in the ball of the foot.
• Swelling between the third and fourth toes.
• Pain when placing weight on the ball of your foot.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s best to reach out to your podiatrist for a diagnosis right away. Your doctor will complete a physical examination and try to reproduce your symptoms during the exam or request for x-rays and other tests to be administered. Early detection of a neuroma may prevent surgery.

Treatments are prescribed depending on the severity of the neuroma. If your neuroma is in its beginning stages, you might find a pair of thick-soled shoes with a wide toe box sufficient. But, for more serious conditions, you may need advanced treatment and possibly surgery. Your doctor will provide a thorough examination and suggest a treatment plan based on the results.

Common treatments include:

Padding: Specialized padding at the ball of the foot may alter any abnormal foot function and alleviate symptoms caused by the neuroma.

Medication: Prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be administered to ease pain caused by the neuroma.

Orthotics: Customized shoe inserts prescribed and made by your podiatrist may help control foot function and reduce symptoms preventing the worsening of the condition.

Surgical Options: Podiatric outpatient surgery may become necessary when early treatments fail and the neuroma progresses past the threshold of non-invasive options. Surgical procedures are performed to remove the inflamed and enlarged nerve with a recovery time of just a few weeks.


The exact causes of neuromas are unknown, but avoiding the following will certainly help prevent a neuroma from developing.

• Ensure exercise shoes have enough room in the toe box and that your toes have room.
• Wear shoes with enough padding, especially in the ball of the foot.
• Avoid wearing shoes with a narrow toe box or excessive heel height of greater than two inches.

If you think you may be experiencing a neuroma, contact our office to schedule an examination.


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