Morton's neuroma is a type of foot pain that is usually centered between the third and fourth toes. It results from thickening and swelling of tissue around a nerve in the area. Symptoms include tingling and sharp, shooting, or burning pains in the ball of your foot (and sometimes toes), especially when wearing shoes or pressing on the area. Pain gradually gets worse over time. Morton's neuroma is more common in women than men.
Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor will likely recommend trying conservative approaches first. This may include resting your foot, changing to better-fitting shoes, trying foot orthotics (arch supports) and taking over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
To help relieve the pain associated with Morton's neuroma and allow the nerve to heal, consider the following steps:
* Take anti-inflammatory medications. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), can reduce swelling and relieve pain.
* Try ice massage. Regular ice massage may help reduce pain. Freeze a water-filled paper cup or plastic foam cup and roll it over the painful site three times a day.
* Change your footwear. Avoid high heels or tight shoes. Choose shoes with a broad toe box and extra depth.
* Wear arch supports or pads (orthotic devices). Arch supports and foot pads fit inside your shoe and help reduce pressure on the nerve. Your doctor may prescribe a custom-made, individually designed shoe insert, which is molded to fit the contours of your foot. Or your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter metatarsal pad or bar, which you can position over the neuroma to relieve stress on the affected nerve.
* Take a break. For a few weeks, reduce activities such as jogging, aerobic exercise or dancing that subject your feet to high impact.