What Causes Morton's Neuroma and How Can I Stop the Pain?

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Have you ever experienced a stabbing pain in the ball of your foot, typically right around your second, third and fourth toes? Chances are you have a Morton’s Neuroma, a painful condition that results from an inflamed nerve in the ball of your foot.

What Causes Morton's Neuromas

Lots of women have high-heels with narrow toe boxes; many also have flat feet; and plenty who have both love to run. According to research, that triple-combo creates ripe conditions for the formation of a Morton’s Neuroma, a nerve problem that causes severe pain in the balls of your feet.

Neuromas form when a nerve between your toes becomes enlarged and enflamed, causing you to experience a burning, tingling sensation. The most common, Morton’s neuroma, forms when the affected nerve is between the base of your third and forth toes. Apparently, squeezing flat feet into tight shoes and then repeatedly pounding them on the pavement can contribute to the nerve inflammation associated with this painful problem.

Knowing that fact, there’s a lot we can do to help prevent neuromas from forming. Most people with flat feet can benefit from orthotic inserts, and while at one time, orthotics could only fit in clunky shoes, these days, you can get inserts designed to fit into your stilettos. If you have a pair for your heels and a pair for your sneakers, you can give yourself a lot of protection against neuromas.

Managing Neuroma Pain at Home

While you must see your podiatrist to correctly diagnose this condition, and while some patients may require surgery or more invasive treatments to gain lasting pain-relief, many individuals will be able to resolve the problem at home, with over-the-counter painkillers and directions from your doctor.

Foot massage can alleviate the pain of a Morton's Neuroma

One easy (and surprisingly pleasant!) at home treatment for neuromas of the feet? Self massage!  

Massage can open up space between the metatarsal bones in the ball of your foot while increasing circulation; both results may reduce both pain and inflammation.

Massages are most effective at night; ideally, they would be performed after a hot bath or shower.

When starting your massage, focus on the ball of the foot, not the toes, since that’s the true source of the problem. Try placing your thumbs at the top of the foot and the other fingers on the bottom of the foot, then pressing and massaging the bones in the ball of the foot, creating pressure on all sides of the bones.

After your massage, try some stretches, grabbing the front of your foot and pulling it back towards you to open up space in the ball of the foot.

Finally, apply ice to the ball of your foot.

For many, at home treatments such as this will alleviate the pain of neuromas. If, however, at home treatments aren’t doing the trick, you may need to explore other options with your Houston podiatrist.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.