Morton's neuroma is a benign (non-cancerous) growth of nerve tissue that develops in the foot, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is a common and painful condition.

The tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes thickens, causing a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot.

morton1
This pain, often described as a "red hot needle," can come on suddenly while walking.

Causes
Morton's neuroma may be the result of irritation, pressure, or injury. In some cases, its cause is unknown. In the majority of cases, only one nerve is affected. Having both feet affected is extremely rare. A high percentage of patients with Morton's neuroma are women who wear high-heeled or narrow shoes.

Symptoms

  1.  Pain or numbness in the ball of the foot
  2. Pain that radiates from the ball of the foot out to the nearby toes
  3. The feeling that you have something stuck in the ball of your foot, or stuck inside your shoe
  4. Foot pain that gets worse when you walk
  5. Pain that gets worse when your foot is squeezed, such as when wearing tight or pointy shoes

morton2

Risk factors

  • High heels. Wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are tight or ill fitting can place extra pressure on your toes and the ball of your foot.
  • Certain sports. Participating in high-impact athletic activities such as jogging or running may subject your feet to repetitive trauma. Sports that feature tight shoes, such as snow skiing or rock climbing, can put pressure on your toes.
  • Foot deformities. People who have bunions, hammertoes, high arches or flatfeet are at higher risk of developing Morton's neuroma.

Medical treatment
Arch supports and foot pads fit inside your shoe and help reduce pressure on the nerve. These can be purchased over-the-counter, or may be prescribed a custom-made, individually designed shoe insert — moulded to fit the exact contours of your foot.
Some patients are helped by the injection of steroids into the painful area.

Surgical treatment
Decompression surgery. In some cases, surgeons can relieve the pressure on the nerve by cutting nearby structures, such as the ligament that binds together some of the bones in the front of the foot.
Removal of the nerve. Surgical removal of the growth may be necessary if other treatments fail to provide pain relief.