Do you know that infinitely irritating feeling when you get a small rock stuck in your shoe? Can you imagine having that feeling constantly? This is one of the main symptoms of a foot condition called Morton’s neuroma. Most likely, you’ve never heard of this disease. Many people are not familiar with foot disorders, which makes maintaining their podiatric health much more difficult. Austin foot doctor, Jeffery LaMour, is well versed in a variety of podiatric conditions, he can assist with virtually any ailment that might befall your feet. In this week’s blog, we’ll describe the basics of Morton’s neuroma so that you can learn more about your feet and find out what to do if you suffer from its symptoms.
A Quick History Lesson
Unfortunately, people have been suffering from Morton’s neuroma for centuries. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society explains: “Morton’s neuroma was first described by Queen Victoria’s surgeon chiropodist…in 1845.” It got its namesake in “Thomas G. Morton of Philadelphia” in 1876. While he correctly described the symptoms, he didn’t get the cause quite right. A fully accurate medical account of Morton’s neuroma came “in 1940, [when] L.O. Betts confirmed that Morton’s neuroma pain was attributed to the swelling of the interdigital [between the toes] nerve.”
What is Morton’s Neuroma?
This foot condition is characterized by a distinctive discomfort. Those who suffer from Morton’s neuroma experience a particular kind of pain between their third and fourth toes—often sharp, sometimes burning, occasionally numb, and, in many cases, the persistent feeling of a pebble in the shoe. This sensation may also spread throughout the ball of the foot or surrounding toes.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes the physical circumstances that create these symptoms: “a neuroma is a benign tumor of a nerve. Morton’s neuroma is not actually a tumor, but a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the digital nerve leading to the toes.” While it isn’t cancerous, and it usually doesn’t cause a visible lump, this growth can cause significant discomfort.
What Causes It?
While podiatrists are not completely sure, Morton’s neuroma appears to be caused largely by external factors. Mayo Clinic explains: “[the condition] seems to occur in response to irritation, pressure, or injury to one of the nerves that lead to your toes.” According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “the incidence of Morton’s neuroma is 8 to 10 times greater in women than in men.” In many cases, tight constricting footwear is the culprit for this condition. Ladies’ stilettos are often the source of their symptoms. Playing sports that put undue pressure on the toes can also cause Morton’s neuroma—Mayo Clinic highlights “snow skiing [and] rock climbing” as risky, but even more basic activities such as “jogging or running may subject your feet to repetitive trauma.” In addition, people suffering from other podiatric deformities (including “bunions, hammertoes, high arches, or flat feet”) may be more likely to suffer from Morton’s neuroma.
Treating Morton’s Neuroma
Austin foot doctor, Dr. LaMour, and our team will determine the appropriate course of action depending on the severity of your Morton’s neuroma and your specific situation. Depending on the circumstances, we may suggest:
- Changing your footwear. It never hurts to go easy on your feet for a while and save the high heels for special occasions. You can also shop for smarter shoes that look great but have a wider toe so as not to hurt that interdigital nerve.
- Reducing your participation in sports or activities that wear on your feet. We may recommend techniques to take pressure off of your toes while you continue to play.
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications to provide short-term relief.
- Icing your feet to numb the affected region.
- Injected steroids, which can provide longer-lasting relief.
- Surgery to modify the surrounding tissue or remove the affected nerve. Dr. LaMour will only take this approach for more severe cases.
Learn More From Your Austin Foot Doctor
Do you think you may be suffering from Morton’s neuroma? Would you like to discover more about your foot health? Contact Dr. LaMour’s office today to find out more or schedule an appointment.