A Long Island Foot Doctor Says Morton’s Neuroma Is a Serious Foot Condition You Should Treat Immediately

When the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes becomes swollen, and nearby bones and ligaments put pressure on the nerve, the resulting condition is called Morton’s neuroma. Though neuromas are sometimes called nerve tumors, unlike other types of tumors, Morton’s neuromas are non-cancerous. In spite of this, an untreated neuroma is still concerning because, over time, it can lead to irreversible nerve damage and impair your ability to walk. 

At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, we routinely treat neuromas. If you’re experiencing pain in your forefoot, we would like to help you get an accurate diagnosis and start appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Morton’s Neuroma Symptoms Graphic-of-feet-and-Mortons-Neuroma

Generally, most people notice signs of neuromas only in one of their feet, which typically develop gradually and initially go away once aggravating factors are removed. Are you noticing any of the following?

  • Feeling as though there is a rock in your shoe or a fold in your sock.
  • Difficulty walking or standing. 
  • Needing to change your activities or your level of activity due to pain.
  • A burning sensation in the ball of your foot, generally between the two or three outermost toes.
  • Pain or swelling in the forefoot and toes that worsens over time.
  • Numbness, tingling, or cramping in the toes and forefoot.
  • Increased irritation when wearing high heels and shoes with pointed toes.
  • Spreading your outer three toes apart causes discomfort. 

Sometimes, you’ll find short-term relief from neuroma irritation when you remove your shoes and massage your feet. However the condition progresses, nothing will alleviate the symptoms.

Risk Factors for Morton’s Neuroma

There’s not an exact cause for Morton’s neuromas, but they do seem to occur when nerves experience irritation, pressure, or injury. Here are some of the most common risk factors. Rick factors that increase the chances that a person will experience this condition include:

Problematic Shoes

Certain types of shoes shift foot bones into an abnormal position and place extra pressure on the toes and ball of the foot. Tight-fitting shoes, especially fashionable high heels, often cause this problem, so it’s not surprising that women fond of this footwear more often experience Morton’s neuromas.

High Impact Sports

Activities that require a lot of running, jumping, and jogging—like tennis, soccer, and football—result in a lot of repetitive foot trauma. Sports that require tight shoes, such as rock climbing and snow skiing, also increase neuroma risk.

Foot Deformities

If you have bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, or high arches, these conditions often cause inflamed nerves. Since your foot structure is altered, it forces pressure elsewhere, and the nerves are compromised as a result. 

Conditions That May Be Confused With Morton’s Neuroma

Because symptoms of Morton’s neuroma are similar to other painful foot problems, it’s not uncommon for people to receive a misdiagnosis unless a podiatrist conducts a thorough examination. Here are just a few conditions that display similar signs:

  • Metatarsophalangeal joint synovitis: Causes swelling, pain, and inflammation in the joints that connect the toes to the feet.
  • Bursitis: This is inflammation in the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints during movement.
  • Stress fractures: These partial breaks in the bones may be difficult to differentiate from Morton’s neuroma without an X-ray or bone scan.
  • Rheumatoid or other types of arthritis: This is inflammation in the joints, which is typically present in more than one joint and may be worse when you’re resting, unlike a neuroma, which is usually worse when you’re active.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition caused when the tibial nerve gets trapped as it passes underneath the inside of the ankle bone.
  • Hammertoe: Defined as abnormal inward curving of the toe, which leads to pain in the web space of the foot.
  • Radiculopathy: This is caused by an impinged nerve root at the base of the spine that leads to the foot. 

Less commonly, the following conditions can also mimic Morton’s neuroma:

  • Metatarsalgia
  • Neoplasms
  • Metatarsal head osteonecrosis
  • Freiburg osteochondrosis
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Intermetatarsal bursal fluid collections
  • Other types of neuromas

How Our Long Island Podiatrists Diagnose Morton’s Neuromas

Receiving an inaccurate diagnosis often means not receiving effective treatment—and Morton’s neuromas don’t typically go away on their own. In fact, they can grow worse without intervention, which causes permanent nerve damage and chronic pain. This is why the foot care specialists at our Massapequa podiatry offices are careful to diagnose every patient accurately. Here’s our process. 

Obtain a Thorough History of the Problem

This might involve your doctor asking questions about: 

  • How and when your symptoms started
  • If symptoms were gradual or sudden
  • Your type of footwear
  • The sports you play or other movement activities you enjoy
  • Other times you’ve hurt your foot or leg
  • If you have a history of arthritis
  • Medications or supplements you regularly take

Complete a Comprehensive Physical Examination of the Foot

Our doctor may press on various areas of the foot and move it around to locate: 

  • Tender spots
  • Masses
  • Calluses
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Check for a limited range of motion

Use Tests and Imaging Studies 

We also rely on innovative diagnostic tools to determine what’s happening inside the foot. These include: 

  • X-rays, which are typically used to rule out other causes of pain, such as fractures, osteoporosis, and abnormalities.
  • Ultrasounds, which allow us to use sound waves to look at the structures inside the foot, specifically soft tissues like neuromas.

How Massapequa Podiatry Associates Develop Your Neuroma Treatment Plan

There’s no need to “tough it out” when you feel pain. There’s always a reason for it. So, the sooner you see a foot doctor for your problems, the easier it’ll be to get on the road to recovery. You’re also less likely to experience irreversible damage. 

However, even in the best cases, Morton’s neuroma treatment may require several months to correct. Once we provide an accurate diagnosis, our Long Island foot care specialists will help you create a customized care plan to meet your needs, and potentially avoid surgery. Fortunately, approximately 80 percent of patients with Morton’s neuroma respond to conservative treatment options and don’t require surgery. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the more likely you are to be part of this group.

Here are some of the treatment steps we often recommend for self-care at home: 

  • Changing to shoes with low or no heels and wide or open toe boxes
  • Adding shock protection with orthotics
  • Physical therapy stretches and exercises 
  • Following RICE procedures to eliminate swelling and discomfort
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Reducing your intake of inflammatory foods
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Resting and massaging feet

In addition, we’re able to offer several treatment options at our centrally located Massapequa foot care clinic. Our skilled podiatry team makes every effort to resolve your pain without the need for neuroma surgery whenever possible. These are just a few of our non-invasive professional techniques: 

  • Sclerosing injections. This involves injecting alcohol or steroids into the foot to shrink the neuroma and reduce your discomfort. 
  • MLS laser therapy. This option painlessly targets and shrinks the neuroma, often without breaking the skin.
  • Shockwave Therapy. High-energy sound waves are used to increase blood flow, reduce pain, and assist the healing process.

We also might recommend nerve decompression surgery, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves cutting the tissue surrounding the nerve in order to relieve pressure. 

What to Know About Neuroma Surgery

A neurectomy is the most invasive treatment for Morton’s neuromas and requires removing the affected nerve. This doesn’t change your ability to use your foot, but because any surgery can have complications, we try to avoid utilizing this option when less invasive options could address the problem first. However, when it’s necessary, neuroma surgery is effective for approximately 70 percent of patients. 

Unfortunately, no surgery is without risks. Likely complications of a neurectomy include:

  • Wounds and infections
  • Loss of sensation
  • Substantial recovery time, requiring missed work and activities

Trust that the foot care professionals at Massapequa Podiatry Associates will take utmost care of you before, during, and after the procedure.