A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that may develop in various parts of the body. The most common neuroma in the foot is a Morton’s Neuroma, which occurs at the base of the 3rd & 4th toes. It is sometimes referred to as an intermetatarsal neuroma. “Intermetatarsal” describes its location- in the ball of the foot between the metatarsal bones (the bones extending from the toes to the midfoot). Neuromas may also occur in other locations in the foot.
The thickening, or enlargement, of the nerve that defines a neuroma is the results of compression and irritation of the nerve. This compression creates swelling of the nerve, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage.
Symptoms of a Morton’s Neuroma
If you have a Morton’s Neuroma, you will probably have one or more of these symptoms where the nerve damage is occurring:
- These symptoms begin gradually. At first they occur only occasionally, when wearing narrow-toed shoes or performing certain aggravating activities.
- The symptoms may go away temporarily by massaging the foot or by avoiding aggravating shoes or activities.
- Over time the symptoms progressively worsen and may persist for several days or weeks.
- The symptoms become more intense as the neuroma enlarges and the temporary changes in the nerve become permanent.
What Causes a Neuroma?
Anything that causes compression or irritation of the nerve can lead to the development of a neuroma. One of the most common offenders is wearing shoes that a tapered toe box, or high-heeled shoes that cause the toes to be forced into the toe box.