Morton’s Neuroma

Treatment for Morton’s Neuroma

Funny how we physical therapists don’t see something for a while, then we get a run on something.  Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the foot.  It can cause sharp pain, burning, and aching in between the toes.  People that have it struggle to wear shoes for work and even have pain walking.  It can get worse over time and the pain can become constant.  What is the best way to treat Morton’s Neuroma?

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is inflammation of the neurovascular bundle between the metatarsals, or foot bones.  There is not a lot of space between your foot bones and the vessels and nerves that supply the region are squeezed in there.  As a result of wearing narrow shoes, high heels, or just tight shoes can cause swelling of that bundle and eventually cause a fair amount of pain.

What are the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma?

Typically, people complain of sharp, often burning pain between the toes.  Some people report numbness too.  Sometimes, patients report that it feels like there is a marble or a pea in the area.  Pain is typically worse with walking and activity and feels better at rest or walking barefoot or with flip-flops as both of these conditions allow the foot to spread out.  You may be able to “self-diagnose” it if you’re not sure by just squeezing the foot together.  If that’s really painful, you may be dealing with Morton’s neuroma.

How do you treat Morton’s neuroma?

Like most things, there are a few ways to address Morton’s neuroma.  Often, the first thing people do is get a steroid injection.  Some studies have supported this.  One study said it can help up to three months and another recent study also supported their efficacy.  Some research has suggested that the size of the neuroma may indicate if the injection will work or not.
Physical therapy for Morton’s neuroma can help too.  Education on shoe wear is a good place to start.  Avoid wearing high heels or “pointy” shoes as the toe box is very narrow.  Rest your feet when possible or wear slippers in between bouts of having to wear dress shoes.  Stretches for the calf muscles, strengthening of the foot intrinsic muscles, and soft tissue mobilization to the plantar aspect of the foot can help.  It is also recommended that you try a metatarsal pad to help create space between those toes.  They can be purchased online or at any medical product store.  Things like ultrasound don’t help too much and have little evidence to support it.

If these “home remedies” don’t work, you should consider seeing a physical therapist for an evaluation.   They may steer you to a physician for an X-ray or a potential injection if warranted.
It would be a privilege to serve you and partner with you in your care.  We have physical therapy locations in Overland Park and Prairie Village to serve you.  Give us a call!

By the way, who the heck is Morton?

We don’t know.  Some guy named Morton discovered it.  Fun facts though – Steven Tyler had surgery for it, and even one of the “Golden Girls” had it too!  So don’t feel alone!

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