Morton's neuroma is a swollen or thickened nerve in the ball of your
foot. When your toes are squeezed together too often and for too long, the
nerve that runs between your toes can swell and get thicker. This swelling can make it
painful when you walk on that foot. High-heeled, tight, or narrow shoes can
make pain worse. Sometimes, changing to shoes that give your toes more room can
What are the symptoms?
Morton's neuroma can cause
a very painful burning or sharp pain in your foot that feels worse when you
walk. It may feel like a small lump inside the ball of your foot. It is usually
between the third and fourth toes, but it can also be between other
How is it diagnosed?
A doctor can usually identify
Morton's neuroma during a physical exam. He or she will squeeze or press on the
bottom of your foot or squeeze your toes together to see if it hurts. Your
doctor may also order an
X-ray of your foot to make sure nothing else is
causing the pain.
How is it treated?
You may be able to treat this
problem at home:
Avoid wearing tight, pointy, or high-heeled
shoes. Choose well-fitted shoes with plenty of room for your
Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a
time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and
swelling. These include ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (such
Rest your feet
when you can. Reduce activities that put pressure on the toes, such as racquet
sports or running.
Try massaging your foot to relax the muscles
around the nerve.
If these steps do not relieve your symptoms, your doctor
may have you use special pads or devices that spread the toes to keep them from
squeezing the nerve. In some cases, a doctor may give a
steroid shot to reduce swelling and pain. If these
treatments do not help, your doctor may suggest surgery.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.