What is Morton’s Neuroma?

What is Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a painful foot condition that affects one or more of the nerves between the toes. Morton’s neuroma is a build up of scar tissue on the nerve sheath between your toes. It is a common and very painful foot condition, and traditional Morton’s neuroma treatment is often unsuccessful.

Morton’s Neuroma Explained

Morton’s Neuroma is a pathological condition of the common digital nerve in the foot, most frequently between the third and fourth metatarsals (third inter-metatarsal space). The nerve sheath becomes abnormally thickened with fibrous (scar) tissue and the nerve fibres eventually deteriorate.

In Morton’s neuroma, fibrous tissue develops around the nerve, which becomes irritated and compressed. This causes severe pain on the ball of the foot and at the base of the toes. The amount of pain experienced can range from a slight tingling sensation to an intense burning sensation which stops sufferers from being able to go about their daily lives. Morton’s neuroma can occur on one foot or both feet and though it is rare, some patients can develop more than one neuroma in the same foot.

Morton’s neuroma may sometimes referred to as an intermetatarsal neuroma. In most cases the neuroma will occur between the second and third, or third and fourth toes.

Morton’s neuroma can affect anyone of any age, however it is most common in females, aged between 30 – 60. We have found that while around 75% of our patients are female and generally middle-aged, it is not at all uncommon to see neuromas in men and young adults, particularly if they have an active hobby or career.

This common digital nerve runs along the bottom (plantar) surface of the foot and branches to supply sensation to the plantar aspect and tips of the third and fourth toes. Occasionally, the common digital nerves in between the second and third inter-metatarsal space are affected. Very rarely the nerve in the first or fourth inter-metatarsal space in the foot is involved. The thickening of the nerve sheath compresses the nerve within the sheath causing Morton’s Neuroma symptoms. Some patients are unlucky enough to develop Morton’s Neuroma in both feet, possibly in both interspaces.

Foot Conditions Similar to Morton’s Neuroma

There are a number of other conditions which may appear similar to Morton’s neuroma including tendonitis, dislocation, metatarsalgia & stress fracture, bursitis, severe plantar callus capsulitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome and radiculopathy.

Another similar condition, stump neuroma, can develop following Morton’s neuroma excision surgery or trauma.

Too often all forefoot pain is categorized as neuroma. Other conditions to consider are capsulitis, which is an inflammation of ligaments that surrounds two bones, at the level of the joint. In this case, it would be the ligaments that attach the phalanx (bone of the toe) to the metatarsal bone. Inflammation from this condition will put pressure on an otherwise healthy nerve and give neuroma-type symptoms. Additionally, an intermetatarsal bursitis between the third and fourth metatarsal bones will also give neuroma-type symptoms because it too puts pressure on the nerve.

Generally a neuroma is a thickening of the sheath tissue of the nerve and can develop in various parts of the body. Morton’s neuroma is the most common, certainly among foot conditions. Unlike elsewhere in the body foot neuromas are not tumorous in nature.