Morton's neuroma, also called plantar neuroma or intermetatarsal neuroma, is caused when tissue around a nerve in the foot, usually between the third and fourth toes, becomes swollen, leading to pain that can become progressively worse if left untreated. One type of Morton's neuroma treatment is to change the types of shoes that the sufferer wears. Additional Morton's neuroma treatments may include injecting steroids or alcohol into the affected area. A more drastic Morton's neuroma treatment involves surgery.
While the exact causes of Morton's neuroma are not completely understood, neuromas, or a thickening and swelling of the tissue around a nerve, can be caused by injuries or traumas to the area. These injuries may be caused by high-impact activities such as running or jogging. In addition, wearing high heeled shoes can contribute to developing Morton's neuroma. Sometimes, doctors are unable to explain why the foot condition has developed. Women are more likely to develop Morton's neuroma than are men.
There are usually no visible symptoms that a person has Morton's neuroma. Instead, the person may feel shooting pains on the balls of the foot or on the toes. In addition, symptoms can include numb toes. Symptoms may feel worse when wearing shoes. Over time, the pain may continue regardless of whether the individual is wearing anything on the feet.
Initially, a physician will probably suggest changing to better fitting shoes, resting the feet or wearing arch supports as well as taking over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories as needed as a Morton's neuroma treatment. Treating the foot with ice packs can also have a positive effect. If these treatments do not work, a doctor may suggest injecting corticosteroids into the area to reduce the pain and swelling. A physician will not prescribe an unlimited number of steroid injections as a Morton's neuroma treatment because steroids have side effects that can adversely affect a person's health, such as increasing blood pressure. Another Morton's neuroma treatment is to inject diluted alcohol into the area, although this treatment is new enough that the procedure is not yet widely practiced.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery as a Morton's neuroma treatment. This is usually done as a last resort when other treatment methods fail. The reason for this is that in order for the surgery to be effective, the affected tissues, including any nerves, must be removed, leading to the area becoming permanently numb.