Morton’s Neuroma Revealed: When Your Toes Hurt

Are you experiencing sharp pain in the toe region? Is the pain mostly felt between your third and fourth toes? Such type of pain is a significant indicator that you might be suffering from Morton’s Neuroma. 

It is one of the common condition that affects millions of people all around the world. Read on to know more about Morton’s Neuroma, its causes and symptoms, and the different methods of treating or managing this condition.

What Is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is a foot disorder that affects the region around your toes, specifically the ball of your foot. Ball of the foot is the bulged area between the toes and the arch of the foot, and it is where the metatarsal bones connect to the phalanges. 

Morton’s neuroma causes swelling of the tissues in the ball of your foot, which leads to pain and discomfort. It usually occurs between the third and fourth toes but can occur between other toes as well.

Some of the most prominent symptoms that are experienced by people with Morton’s neuroma are listed below:

  • Sharp and stinging pain between two toes.
  • A numbing sensation in the toes.
  • Feels as if you are stepping on a ball or a pebble when you stand or walk.
  • Prickling sensation in the toes and ball of the foot, which feels like being pricked by a needle.

Morton’s neuroma is named after Thomas George Morton, an American surgeon who was the first person to discover and describe this condition. Some people may confuse Morton’s neuroma with another foot disorder known as Morton’s toe. 

However, the two are entirely different, as Morton’s toe is a condition where the second toe seems to be longer than the first toe. The confusion comes from the fact that both conditions affect the toes and that they share the same first name (although Morton’s toe is named after a different surgeon, Dudley Joy Morton).

What Are The Causes Of Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is caused by the swelling or inflammation of the tissues in the ball of the foot. There are many factors responsible for such a reaction. The most common factor that causes Morton’s neuroma is wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight, mainly around the toe region. 

  • Wearing such shoes will create pressure on the nerves that lead to the toes, which eventually causes them to get irritated and swell up. Other causes of Morton’s neuroma are:
  • Congenital foot deformities that affect the pressure distribution on the toes when walking.Other foot disorders such as bunions, high arches, or flat feet.
  • A severe injury to the foot.
  • Excessive physical activities which build up pressure on the toes over time.
  • Specific sports require the players to wear tight shoes.

How Is Morton’s Neuroma Diagnosed?

You should visit a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma, such as sharp pain between the toes and a feeling of stepping on a pebble even when there is no visible lump on foot. Based on your symptoms, your doctor will most likely run the following tests to diagnose and confirm the occurrence of Morton’s neuroma.

  • X-Ray

A foot x-ray is done to check any undetected fractures are responsible for the pain and other symptoms. If there are no fractures, further diagnosis is performed.

  • Ultrasound imaging

Ultrasound imaging is an effective technique to view the soft tissues in our body. An ultrasound of your foot will help the doctors to visualize and identify tissue abnormalities such as swelling and inflammation.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Like ultrasound, MRI is also another technique to view and detect abnormalities in the soft tissues.

Based on your account of the symptoms, the result from these tests, and your lifestyle choices, your doctor will be able to confirm if you are suffering from Morton’s neuroma.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options For Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma causes severe pain, and in worst cases, it can severely hamper your daily lifestyle and overall well-being. The good thing is that treating this condition doesn’t always require surgery. In fact, doctors will usually advise non-surgical treatment methods at first, such as the use of orthotics, shoe inserts, footpads, and wearing Morton’s Neuroma shoes that can provide relief from the condition. 

So let’s take a look at the different non-surgical methods and best products for Morton’s neuroma.

Metatarsal Pads and Cushions

Morton’s neuroma affects the region where the metatarsal bones end and connect to the phalanges. That is why metatarsal pads are a valid form of treatment for this condition, as they provide comfort and relief to the metatarsal region or the ball of the foot. 

If you’ve never used metatarsal pads and don’t know what they’re like, have a look at these products below to get a better idea.

Metatarsal Pads Ball of Foot Cushions – Soft Gel Ball of Foot Pads

This product includes two metatarsal pads and one ball of foot cushion. Both the pads and the cushion are made of the soft gel material, so they are comfortable to wear and absorb the pressure on your foot and toes while walking or standing. But while the material is soft, it is also very durable and flexible enough to fit different foot sizes.

Metatarsal Pads Ball of Foot Cushions - Soft Gel Ball of Foot Pads - Mortons Neuroma Callus Metatarsal Foot Pain Relief Bunion Forefoot Cushioning Relief Women - 2 Pairs

The metatarsal pads completely cover the ball of the foot and keep it protected. They are also perforated and can absorb moisture, so they also prevent excess sweating. As such, they will not slip around when you’re wearing them. The ball of foot cushions right behind the pads, covering the arch of your feet. For maximum benefits, it is recommended to wear both of them together when wearing shoes. 

All in all, these pads and cushions are effective in reducing the pressure on the metatarsal region of your feet. So they allow the swollen to tissues to heal naturally without further irritation, while you can still walk around without feeling continuous pain. 

Ball of Foot Cushions (2 Pieces) No image: ASIN unavailable (out of stock in Amazon) Product link is https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Foot-Cushions-Metatarsal-Cu%20shion/dp/B082SR1751

While the previous product was made of the gel material, these metatarsal pads are made of soft fabric. But they do have an inbuilt gel cushion to provide comfort while reducing pain and pressure. The benefit of fabric material is that it feels natural on the feet, similar to putting on a pair of socks. The material is durable as well as elastic, so it will snugly fit on all foot sizes.

The fabric is also quite breathable, so it prevents the build-up of heat and sweat to some extent. They are also easy to wash and rinse with soap and water, and you can keep them clean and fresh after everyday use. The package includes two pads, and you can wear them alternately when the other one is drying up.

These pads cover the metatarsal region such that the gel cushion lies exactly on the ball of the foot. The gel absorbs the pressure while walking with these pads on which prevents the nerves and tissues from worsening. That is why it’s useful in relieving pain and treating Morton’s neuroma. 

Orthotics

Orthotics or shoe inserts are meant to be worn inside shoes. Different types of orthotics are used to treat various kinds of foot disorders. One of the most common types of orthotics are insoles, which are designed with specific features depending on different foot disorders.

Insoles can either be replaced with the sole of your shoes or can be worn together if there is enough space. Here’s our review of one of the best orthotic insoles for Morton’s neuroma.

Powerstep Pinnacle Plus Met Insoles

The Powerstep insoles are made of high-quality, durable fabric that also feels very smooth and comfortable. It is also equipped with a double-layered EVA foam, which provides sufficient cushioning for the feet. 

In terms of design, these insoles have a cupped heel section and a high arch, while the front section is raised with thick padding. So they provide adequate arch support along with proper cushioning for the toes and metatarsal region.

Powerstep Pinnacle Plus Orthotic Inserts, Red/Blue, Men's 10-10.5, Women's 12

A unique feature of these insoles is that the fabric is resistant to heat and friction. So, they prevent the formation of excessive sweat and moisture as well. Unlike many other insoles, the Pinnacle plus doesn’t need to be cut from the edges to fit different shoes. You can change it in between different shoes conveniently.

The main benefit of these insoles is that along with cushioning the metatarsal region, and they also provide all-around comfort for the entire feet. 

Toe Separators

As the name suggests, toe separators are used to separate the toes and keep them fixed in their natural alignment. They also help to stretch the nerves and muscles around the toes, including the metatarsal region. 

So, they can facilitate the restoration of swollen tissues in people with Morton’s neuroma. Below, we have reviewed one of the most effective toe separators for Morton’s neuroma.

YogaToes GEMS: Gel Toe Stretcher & Toe Separator

The Gems toe separator has a unique design. Many toe separators are designed to be placed between just two toes. But Gems toe separators are meant to be used on all five toes together. They are made of BPA free gel material which feels comfortable on the toes. The design features a flat base with five protrusions that create slots for each toe to slip into.

YogaToes GEMS: Gel Toe Stretcher & Toe Separator - America’s Choice for Fighting Bunions, Hammer Toes, More!

The spacing between each toe is perfect as it stretches the muscles, nerves, and tissues without causing any discomfort. Before applying these separators, you must wash them with water as it will make them moist, slippery, and easy to put on. 

It’s recommended to wear them for short time intervals at first and then increase the duration gradually. Stretching all five toes for small intervals regularly will eventually loosen the nerves and tissues, which is why they are useful for treating Morton’s neuroma. 

Shoes for Morton’s Neuroma

The type of shoes you wear regularly plays a significant role in both the development and the treatment of Morton’s neuroma. That is why people suffering from this condition must be aware of the best shoes for Morton’s neuroma. 

Your doctor can also help you to figure out what are the best shoes for Morton’s neuroma. Ideally, you need to look for shoes that have a wider toe box and don’t create any pressure on the ball of the foot. We have gone for many products and handpicked some recommended shoes for Morton’s neuroma for both men and women.

Best Morton’s neuroma shoes for men

New Balance Men’s 840 V2 Walking ShoeThis product is one of the Amazon Associates Program Excluded Products. We do not support direct linking to this product. Please direct customers to another product or the category for this product instead.

The New Balance men’s shoes are the best Morton’s Neuroma shoes and are made of 100% genuine leather, which offers high durability and longevity. They are equipped with excellent rubber soles which are very comfortable to wear. The midsole has pressure absorption properties and is also elevated at the back. This elevation helps to distribute the pressure evenly throughout the feet while walking.

You can also remove the inbuilt soles and replace them with specially designed insoles for Morton’s neuroma. The toe box is very spacious, so you can comfortably wear these shoes along with metatarsal pads and cushions. The look and design are sporty, which also makes them one of the best stylish shoes for Morton’s neuroma

Skechers Men’s Go Max-Athletic Air Mesh Slip on Walking Shoe Sneaker

Skechers men’s sneakers are made of pure textile material and are equipped with durable synthetic soles. The upper region features a mesh fabric built, and the soles are naturally cushioned to prevent pain and pressure on the feet while walking. The slip-on design without any laces makes it easy to put on and take off the shoes.

Skechers Men's Go Walk Max-Athletic Air Mesh Slip on Walkking Shoe Sneaker,Black,7 M US

The mesh fabric itself is stretchable, so it does not create pressure on the toes and metatarsal region. The thickly padded soles are efficient in absorbing shock and pressure, and there is plenty of room to even add in custom orthotics or metatarsal pads. 

Their simple but attractive design also makes them suitable for casual wear. These shoes are lightweight and comfortable.

Best Morton’s Neuroma Shoes for Women

Clarks Women’s Cheyn Creek Loafer

Clark’s Women’s loafers feature a combination of leather uppers, textile lining throughout the shoes, and a soft and durable rubber sole. The toe box is curved slightly upwards so that the ball of the foot does not apply direct pressure on the ground while walking. The outsole is designed to absorb and withstand external pressure.

Clarks Women's Cheyn Creek Loafer, red Leather, 050 M US

The build of these loafers is somewhat open and spacious, so you won’t have any problem in accommodating orthotic inserts and footpads. You can easily slip into these shoes as they somewhat resemble sandals in terms of look and design. In fact, if you’re looking for the best sandals for Morton’s neuroma, then this product will do the job. 

Clarks Women’s Tequini Slip-On

Clarks Tequini women’s shoes are also made of premium quality genuine leather with comfortable rubber soles. The outsole features a beaded design, which reduces pressure on the foot and also offers a better grip and stance. Once again, you can see that the front region is curved upwards to prevent the toes from putting pressure on the ground.

Clarks Women's Tequini Slip-On,Dark Gunsmoke,5 M US

The upper region of the shoes also includes small pores at either side that offers sufficient breathability and improves the comfort factor. The overall design of these slip-on shoes is fancy and attractive. That is why they are also suitable for people who are looking for fashionable or cute shoes for Morton’s neuroma.

Surgical Treatment Of Morton’s Neuroma

Non-surgical treatment of Morton’s neuroma is always the first preference of doctors. But if such treatment doesn’t show any improvement, then surgical methods need to be considered. Initially, your doctor may use corticosteroid injections on the affected area to reduce the swelling or inflammation. When that does not work either, a surgical procedure will be performed.

What Does Morton’s Neuroma Surgery Involve?

Surgery for Morton’s neuroma is usually a minor and standard procedure. It can be performed as a daytime surgery without the need for long term hospitalization. The process of surgery involves the application of general anesthesia, after which a small incision is made in the metatarsal region of the foot. Then the swollen tissue is cut and removed, and the incision is sealed.

How Long Does It Take To Recover After The Surgery?

After the surgery, patients can still walk around a bit wearing special post-surgical shoes for around 3 to 4 weeks. However, they should refrain from walking unnecessarily and get as much rest as possible during this period. After about six weeks of surgery, patients can resume normal activities and wear regular shoes. However, the duration of recovery may vary among patients depending on the speed of healing and external factors.

How Painful Is The Surgery?

Morton’s neuroma surgery is not severely painful as it’s a minor procedure. There may be some pain and discomfort after the surgery, especially when trying to stand or walk, but it’s bearable for the most part.

Can Morton’s Neuroma Reoccur After Surgery?

Successful surgical treatment of Morton’s neuroma doesn’t guarantee that the condition won’t occur again in the future. Depending on your regular physical activity and lifestyle, you can develop Morton’s neuroma again even after being treated for it once.