Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton's neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.
Morton's neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.
High-heeled shoes have been linked to the development of Morton's neuroma. Many people experience relief by switching to lower heeled shoes with wider toe boxes. Sometimes corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.
Typically, there's no outward sign of this condition, such as a lump. Instead, you may experience the following symptoms:
- A feeling as if you're standing on a pebble in your shoe
- A burning pain in the ball of your foot that may radiate into your toes
- Tingling or numbness in your toes
Morton's neuroma seems to occur in response to irritation, pressure or injury to one of the nerves that lead to your toes.
Factors that appear to contribute to Morton's neuroma include:
- High heels. Wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are tight or ill-fitting can place extra pressure on your toes and the ball of your foot.
- Certain sports. Participating in high-impact athletic activities such as jogging or running may subject your feet to repetitive trauma. Also, sports that feature tight shoes, such as snow skiing or rock climbing, can put pressure on your toes.
- Foot deformities. People who have bunions, hammertoes, high arches or flatfeet are at higher risk of developing Morton's neuroma.
When to Call the Doctor
It's best not to ignore any foot pain or a burning sensation at the ball of your foot that lasts for more than a few days, even after you change your footwear.