Morton's neuroma is an inflammation of the nerves that innervate your toes. Morton's neuroma typically affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. The thickening of the tissue surrounding the nerves causes irritation and can make it feel like you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock. It can also present as a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot that can radiate to your toes or may cause stinging, burning, or numbness.
Causes of Morton's Neuroma
Morton's neuroma occurs as a result of irritation, pressure, or injury to the nerves that innervate your middle toes. Culprits include wearing high heeled shoes, high impact sporting activities, and foot deformities such as hammer toes, bunions, high arches, or flat feet.
High-heeled shoes position the foot with the toes pointing down and the heel is elevated. Thus weight-bearing occurs almost exclusively on the ball of the foot causing excessive pressure irritating the nerve. Switching to lower heeled shoes with a wider toe box can help treat Morton's neuroma. Sometimes corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.
Sports that are high impact or repetitive in nature can also cause Morton's neuroma. This is especially true for sporting activities that wear minimalist shoes (sprinting) or shoes that are too small or tight (soccer, rock climbing) or no shoes at all (barefoot running).
Foot deformities such as hammer toes, bunions, high arches, or flat feet are specific traits that are common with certain foot types. A Morton's neuroma may develop due to the mechanical stress placed on the feet when standing, walking, or running.
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