Runners and Morton Neuroma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Could that pain in your foot be Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s Neuroma, also known as Morton neuroma, is a common foot condition that can cause significant discomfort and hinder dailey and running activities. But what if there were ways to identify, manage, and even prevent this condition from affecting your life? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for Morton’s Neuroma, providing you with valuable information to help you take control of your foot health and maintain an active lifestyle.


Key Takeaways

  • Morton’s Neuroma is a painful condition affecting the ball of the foot, caused by thickening of nerve tissue.
  • Risk factors include tight shoes, high arches and calves, and repetitive activities. Symptoms such as pain or discomfort in the ball of the foot should be recognized early for successful management.
  • Prevention strategies involve proper fitting footwear and activity modifications to reduce strain on feet.


Identifying Morton’s Neuroma

Mortons NeuromaMorton’s Neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of the foot, resulting in foot pain and discomfort. This thickening of nerve tissue typically occurs between the metatarsal bones in the foot. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent nerve damage, making early diagnosis and intervention crucial.

We’ll investigate the characteristics of this condition and the factors leading to its development in the next segments.


Third and Fourth Toes

The most common location for Morton’s Neuroma is between the third and fourth toes, which can cause:

  • Pain
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Numbness in the affected area

Wearing high heeled shoes, or tight shoes can contribute to the development of this condition, as they compress and irritate the inter-digital nerve.

A physical exam and imaging tests, such as MRI or ultrasound, can help diagnose Morton’s Neuroma and determine the appropriate treatment options.


Nerve Tissue Thickening

The primary characteristic of Morton’s Neuroma is the thickening of nerve tissue in the foot. This thickening occurs due to the compression and irritation of the nerve, leading to inflammation and pain.

Gaining knowledge about the causes and risk factors for Morton’s Neuroma is pivotal for its prevention and management.


Causes and Risk Factors

Several factors are believed to contribute to the development of Morton’s Neuroma, including wearing tight shoes, having high arches or tight calves, and engaging in repetitive foot activities such as running. These factors can irritate the affected nerve, leading to the thickening of tissue around the nerve and the onset of pain and discomfort.

We’ll examine these causes and risk factors in greater detail in the upcoming subsections, offering insight into how to tackle and prevent Morton’s Neuroma.


Tight Shoes

Wearing tight shoes can significantly contribute to the development of Morton’s Neuroma by compressing and irritating the inter-digital nerve, including the lateral plantar nerves, near the toe bones, leading to inflammation and toes pain.

The pressure from tight shoes can be harmful, thus it’s necessary to wear shoes that fit properly with adequate support to alleviate symptoms and stop the condition from deteriorating.


High Arches and Tight Calves

Individuals with high arches and tight calves may be more likely to develop Morton’s Neuroma. Certain foot deformities that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition include:

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Flat feet
  • Feet with increased flexibility

Being aware of these risk factors and managing them through suitable footwear and foot care can mitigate the risk of Morton’s Neuroma development.


Repetitive Activities

Repetitive activities, such as running or dancing, may be associated with the development of Morton’s Neuroma due to the continuous stress they place on the foot.

Making adjustments to these activities or adding another type of training such as cycling, yoga or swimming can inhibit the condition’s development or progression.


Recognizing the Symptoms

The most common symptom of Morton’s Neuroma is pain or discomfort in the ball of the foot. Detecting these symptoms early on is vital to avoid permanent nerve damage and guarantee effective treatment.


Progression Pattern

The progression pattern of Morton’s Neuroma symptoms typically starts with:

  • Minor pain that worsens over time
  • Occasional occurrences when wearing certain shoes or participating in specific activities
  • Symptoms becoming more frequent as the condition progresses

Identifying this progression pattern is fundamental for prompt diagnosis and treatment.


Pain Signals

Pain signals associated with Morton’s Neuroma can include:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Numbness in the affected area
  • Sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot
  • Sensation of a small object or rock in the shoe

Recognizing these pain signals can assist in determining Morton’s Neuroma presence and instigate an evaluation by a healthcare professional.


Diagnosis and Evaluation

morton nueroma symptomsDiagnosing Morton’s Neuroma involves a physical exam and imaging tests to evaluate the condition. A comprehensive evaluation is key to discern the condition’s severity and establish the best treatment options.

In the sections ahead, we’ll talk about the physical exam and imaging tests employed in the diagnosis process.


Physical Exam

A physical exam is the first step in diagnosing Morton’s Neuroma. The physician will palpate the foot to detect a mass or tender area, and may utilize tests such as the thumb index finger squeeze test and Mulder’s click test to assist in the diagnosis.

These exams can assist in confirming the presence of Morton’s Neuroma and guide the optimal treatment course.


Imaging Tests

Imaging tests, such as MRI and ultrasound, may be used to further evaluate Morton’s Neuroma and assess indications of nerve tissue thickening or swelling.

These imaging techniques offer a detailed insight into the condition, enabling enhanced treatment planning and management.


Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment options for Morton’s Neuroma include orthotic devices and proper footwear. In some cases, injections of corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to reduce pain in the affected area.

The benefits of orthotic devices and properly selected running shoes for managing Morton’s Neuroma symptoms will be discussed in the sections ahead.


Orthotic Devices

Orthotic devices, such as arch supports, can help alleviate symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma by providing support and cushioning to the feet. These devices can be custom-made or purchased over-the-counter, and can help mitigate symptoms without requiring surgery.

Orthotic devices, when fitted correctly, offer multiple benefits in treating Morton’s Neuroma, such as reducing abnormal mechanical forces, alleviating weight-bearing pressure, and tackling the neuroma’s cause.


Proper Running Shoes

stress fracture treatmentWearing proper running shoes with a wide toe box and lower heels can help manage Morton’s Neuroma symptoms by providing cushioning and support to the foot, while shoe inserts can further enhance comfort.

It’s also vital to replace running shoes routinely every 500-600 miles or when the cushioning begins to wear out to maintain sufficient support and prevent Morton’s Neuroma symptoms.


Surgical Treatment and Recovery

Surgical treatment for Morton’s Neuroma involves removing the affected nerve tissue, followed by recovery and long-term care. Surgical intervention is considered when non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful in managing the condition.

We’ll delve into the Morton’s Neuroma surgery and the process of recovery and long-term care in the upcoming subsections.


Morton’s Neuroma Surgery

Morton’s Neuroma surgery is a procedure used to treat the condition by removing the thickened tissue around the affected nerve. Neurectomy (removal of part of the nerve) and decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve are the two surgical treatments available for Morton’s Neuroma.

The potential risks associated with the surgery include infection, nerve damage, and recurrence of the condition, while the benefits include relief of pain and improved mobility.


Recovery and Long-Term Care

Recovery from Morton’s Neuroma surgery, performed by a foot and ankle surgeon, varies depending on the procedure, with long-term care involving proper footwear and activity modification. The recovery process usually includes wearing a protective boot for several weeks, physical therapy, and abstaining from activities that place pressure on the foot.

Sustaining long-term care with suitable footwear and activity adjustments can guarantee ongoing relief from symptoms and inhibit Morton’s Neuroma recurrence.


Prevention Strategies

Prevention strategies for Morton’s Neuroma include choosing proper fitting shoes and modifying activities that cause foot strain. By addressing these factors, individuals can reduce the risk of developing Morton’s Neuroma and maintain optimal foot health.

The forthcoming subsections will address the significance of selecting properly fitting shoes and altering activities to avoid the development of Morton’s Neuroma.


Choosing Proper Fitting Shoes

Wearing shoes with a wide toe box and lower heels can help prevent Morton’s Neuroma by reducing pressure on the foot. Properly fitting shoes offer numerous benefits, such as:

  • Improved foot alignment
  • Decreased pressure on the foot
  • Increased comfort
  • Decreased risk of foot deformities
  • Improved gait and movement

Making sure that shoes fit properly is fundamental to Morton’s Neuroma prevention and overall foot health maintenance.


Activity Modification

Modifying activities that cause foot strain, such as running or dancing, can help reduce the risk of developing Morton’s Neuroma. Potential modifications may include reducing the intensity of the activity, taking frequent breaks, and utilizing other exercises to keep your fitness such as cycling, yoga or swimming.

Adopting these changes can aid in reducing the impact of repetitive activities on the foot and ankle, thwarting the development of Morton’s Neuroma.



In conclusion, Morton’s Neuroma is a common foot condition that can cause significant discomfort if left untreated. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can take control of your foot health and maintain an active lifestyle. Remember to choose proper fitting shoes, modify activities that cause foot strain, and seek medical advice if you experience persistent pain or tingling in your foot area. With the right knowledge and preventative measures, you can minimize the impact of Morton’s Neuroma on your life and enjoy every step you take.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best treatment for Morton’s neuroma?

The best treatment for Morton’s neuroma involves activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injection, changing footwear to avoid narrow, tight or high heels, using custom orthotics and icing the inflamed area.


Do Morton’s neuromas go away?

Unfortunately, a Morton’s neuroma won’t go away on its own. However, it can improve and even disappear depending on the type of shoes worn and time spent on feet. With early treatment, the pain may resolve completely.


What is the cause of Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is caused by the entrapment and compression of the common digital plantar nerves, which often occur due to high impact activities such as running and jogging, sports that require tight fitting shoes, foot deformities, activities involving repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, and wearing high heels or shoes with narrow, pointed toes.


What is neuroma?

A neuroma is a disorganized growth of nerve cells at the site of a nerve injury that can cause pain and other symptoms. It usually arises from non-neuronal tissue after trauma or amputation, or it can be a true neoplasm.







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  2. Frontera WR, et al., eds. Morton’s neuroma. In: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019. Accessed March 16, 2021.