What is a Morton's Neuroma | Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists

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by Dr. Brant McCartan

A Morton’s Neuroma is a painful nerve inflammation in the ball of the foot. This type of neuroma usually acts in between the third and forth toes. The symptoms can be quite unique and actually pretty strange. Most people will feel like they are constantly walking on a rock at the location of the neuroma. This sensation could be easily mistaken for the symptoms associated with an Isolated Plantar Keratosis (check out our previous blog on Warts). Strangely enough, when the bottom of the foot is inspected there is no growth or superficial reason to feel as if there were a rock there. If this were an Isolated Plantar Keratosis a skin growth would be noticed.

The sensation is caused by inflammation around the nerve. This nerve, the common digital nerve, leads directly towards the web spaces between your toes and splits to form two proper digital nerves. Each proper digital nerve supplies sensation information to your brain from a side of each toe. Because of the nerves involved, the symptoms are not limited to the feeling of walking on a stone. A Morton’s Neuroma can also cause your toes to burn with radiating pain or even a very sharp stabbing pain with each step. Either way these symptoms can be very discomforting – even causing a limp.

But what causes a neuroma? What causes the nerve to be inflamed? Our first clue is within the fact that Morton’s Neuromas are more common in women. This statistic, as with many other foot issues, is due to the type of footwear women tend to choose. Constant pressure on the outside edges of a foot causes bones to compress and place pressure on the nerves between your metatarsals (the bones leading to your toes). The compression will cause friction with each motion. The nerve will become inflamed, causing each following motion to be more painful and inflame the nerve. With a swollen nerve, more friction is possible… creating a viscous cycle of friction, swelling, and pain. Neuromas are also common in runners, and other athletes that engage in repetitive, high impact activities.

What should we do to stop Morton’s Neuromas? What can be done to treat a neuroma? Check back with us next week to learn all about what you and your doctor can do to ease the pain.

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