Morton’s neuroma is a growth (benign tumor) that arises in nerve cells. A Morton’s neuroma is a swollen, inflamed nerve located between the bones at the ball of the foot (usually either the second or the third spacing from the base of the great toe). A Morton’s neuroma is caused by compression of the nerve of sensation between the ends of the metatarsal bones at the base of the toes.
A Morton’s neuroma causes a “burning” sharp pain on the bottom of the foot in the involved area. The pain of a Morton’s neuroma can radiate to the nearby toes. The pain is usually increased by walking or when the ball of the foot is squeezed together and decreased with massaging. It may force a person to stop walking.
Runners may feel pain as they push off from the starting block. High-heeled shoes, which put the foot in a similar position to the push-off, can also aggravate the condition. Tight, narrow shoes also aggravate this condition by compressing the toe bones and metatarsals resulting in pinching nerve ending.
Symptoms of a Morton’s neuroma can completely resolve with simple treatments, such as resting the foot, better-fitting shoes, orthotics with metatarsal support, and ice packs. More rapid relief of symptoms can follow a local cortisone injection. Symptoms can progressively worsen with time. For those with persistent symptoms, the swollen nerve tissue is removed with a surgical operation.