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What Is a Neuroma?
Symptoms of a Morton’s Neuroma
What Causes a Neuroma?
Diagnosis
Treatment
When Is Surgery Needed?

What Is a Neuroma?

A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that may develop in various parts of the body. The most common neuroma in the foot is a Morton’s neuroma, which occurs at the base of the third and fourth toes. It is sometimes referred to as an intermetatarsal neuroma. "Intermetatarsal" describes its location — in the ball of the foot between the metatarsal bones (the bones extending from the toes to the midfoot). Neuromas may also occur in other locations in the foot.

The thickening, or enlargement, of the nerve that defines a neuroma is the result of compression and irritation of the nerve. This compression creates swelling of the nerve, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage.

Symptoms of a Morton’s Neuroma

If you have a Morton’s neuroma, you will probably have one or more of these symptoms where the nerve damage in occurring:

What Causes a Neuroma?

Common digital  nerves, Neuroma, Lateral plantar nerve, Medial plantar nerve

Anything that causes compression or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of a neuroma. One of the most common offenders is wearing shoes that have a tapered toe box, or high–heeled shoes that cause the toes to be forced into the toe box.

People with certain foot deformities — bunions, hammertoes, flatfeet, or more flexible feet are at higher risk for developing a neuroma. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running or racquet sports. An injury or other type of trauma to the area may also lead to a neuroma.

Diagnosis

To arrive at a diagnosis, the podiatric foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination, the doctor attempts to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot. Other tests may be performed.

The best time to see your podiatric surgeon is early in the development of symptoms. Early diagnosis of a Morton’s neuroma greatly lessens the need for more invasive treatments and may avoid surgery.

Treatment

In developing a treatment plan, your podiatric surgeon will first determine how long you’ve had the neuroma and evaluate its stage of development. Treatment approaches vary according to the severity of the problem.

For mild to moderate cases of neuroma, treatment options include:

When Is Surgery Needed?

Surgery may be considered in patients who have not received adequate relief from other treatments. Generally, there are two surgical approaches to treating a neuroma the affected nerve is either removed or released. Your podiatric surgeon will determine which approach is best for your condition.

The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.

Regardless of whether you’ve undergone surgical or nonsurgical treatment, your podiatric surgeon will recommend long–term measures to help keep your symptoms from returning. These include appropriate footwear and modification of activities that cause repetitive pressure on the foot.