The Painful Foot: Morton’s Neuroma

Morton's neuromaThe Painful Foot: Morton’s Neuroma

Back in high school I was a sprinter on the Track team. The front soles of my racing cleats were embedded with metal, pin-sharp spikes that sank into the track for extra traction and push off power. Now if you’ve never sprinted before, let me just say that the ball of your foot takes quite a beating!

At the end of my sophomore and junior seasons, I had raced well, placed in the counties and subsequently moved up to the NY State finals. I never got to run those races, however. You see, both years I had run so hard in my final qualifying races that I suffered a stress fracture in the front of my right foot. Those running injuries came back to haunt me in my forties in the form of occasional sharp, electrical-like forefoot pain while merely walking.

While you may not have received a traumatic injury to your own foot, you, too, may be experiencing a similar shooting pain typically running between the 3rd and 4th long bones (metatarsals) of your forefoot. Sometimes it can feel sharp, as though you were stepping on glass, and other times dull, like you have a rock in your shoe. If I am describing something that has been plaguing you, I have some information you’ll be interested in.

A common cause of foot pain and disability is a Morton’s neuroma. It is a growth of scar/connective tissue that builds up around the nerve as it runs between the long bones in the foot. This condition develops in response to repetitive trauma (like the pounding of my running years) or from the squeezing together of the forefoot when tight or pointed shoes are frequently worn.

So what’s the solution? The first thing to do is to purchase shoes with a wider toe box. If need be, add a weight-distributing inner sole to the shoe to “offload” the nerve. Also, avoid high heels (ladies) and prolonged squatting which places undue pressure onto the balls of your feet. Additionally, you can add a gel pad to the front part of your shoes to distribute the pressure away from the nerve.

If nothing you try seems to help, you can be treated by a foot specialist who will likely begin with an injection of an anti-inflammatory medication followed by surgery if significant relief has not been achieved.

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