Morton’s Neuroma is a painful condition affecting the ball of your foot. The area most commonly affected by Morton’s Neuroma is between the third and fourth toes. It’s caused by a thickening of tissue around a nerve that leads to your toes; this tissue becomes a swollen nerve bundle that results from irritation and compression of the nerve. The compression causes the nerve to enlarge, which causes the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma. It eventually leads to permanent nerve damage.
What Are the Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?
If you have Morton’s Neuroma, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- You may have pain that occurs in the ball of your foot or your toes, and this pain may cause numbness or sharp, burning, or stinging sensations.
- You may have sensory issues such as pins and needles or a reduced touch sensation in the ball of your foot or your toes.
- You may feel like something is inside the ball of your foot, that you’re standing on a sock that is bunched up or folded over, or like you have a pebble in your shoe. You may feel as though you’re walking on a marble.
Morton’s Neuroma can be caused by injury or pressure, such as wearing high heels or running. There are also innate anatomical characteristics that can place you at a higher risk for developing Morton’s Neuroma, such as:
- Having a low ball-heel ratio, or what’s also known as a heel-to-toe drop.
- High height of toes.
- Poor arch support.
- Impaired biomechanical balance, which is due to the instability of support around the ankles.
- Congenital or acquired musculoskeletal defects.
- Poor foot stability caused by certain habits such as wearing heels or not alternating workouts.
How is Morton’s Neuroma Treated?
Treatments may include foot pads, arch supports, corticosteroid injections, exercises, surgery, or wide-toed shoes.
Proper shoes are critical in preventing and treating Morton’s Neuroma. Shoes that are poorly fitted or are the wrong type can cause a worsening of the forefoot overloading mechanism, in which metatarsal bones override each other. This can be caused by forceful impact or by other factors. This is especially likely in women, particularly when walking in narrow, box-toed, high-heeled shoes.
While changing your footwear isn’t a cure for Morton’s Neuroma, it’s an essential tool for dealing with the condition, along with conservative treatments and surgical procedures, if needed.
How Do I Choose the Right Shoes for Morton’s Neuroma?
Having the proper shoe can make all the difference when it comes to Morton’s Neuroma. Here are a few tips on choosing the right shoes:
- Choose the best time to shop. When looking for appropriate footwear for Morton’s Neuroma, make sure to shop in the evening. Your feet tend to be bigger at the end of the day from swelling due to standing, walking, and pressure. Any shoe you choose should have at least half an inch of toe room. When trying on a new pair of shoes, make sure to stand, walk, and gently jog (if you are able) to get a sense of how the shoes move and work with your feet.
- Focus on the arch support. Especially if you are active and participate in sports, running, or other activities that place more stress on your feet, you need to invest in the highest-quality shoes you can buy. Running shoes or cross-training shoes with good arch support help offset the impact of running because they act as shock absorbers. Arch support is also vitally important if you have certain high-risk factors or foot conditions, such as inadequate gait or abnormal posture.
- Select properly sized shoes. Get your feet measured by a podiatrist or a store that specializes in orthotic shoes. Many people wear the wrong size of shoes, which can contribute to foot problems. In addition, 60% of people have feet that differ in size. This is a small difference in some cases, but it can be up to one and a half sizes. It’s important to determine if this is the case, as you’ll either need to purchase custom shoes or ones with mismatched sizes. Wearing the wrong size shoes can strain the connective-tissue architecture of your feet.
- Choose shoes with a wide toe box. Wearing shoes with a wide toe box is critical in preventing the direct impact of pressure and force on the forefoot. A wide toe box prevents the overriding of metatarsal bones on each other, which tends to occur in high-heeled shoes or those with a narrow toe box. Ensure that your shoes have a wide enough toe box to cope with your feet at the very end of the day when feet tend to swell.
- Opt for very low-heeled or zero-drop shoes. Flat shoes put the least amount of pressure on the bones in the balls of your feet; it is this area that is the location of your Morton’s Neuroma.
- Adjustable-fitting shoes can offer relief. Shoes that are too narrow or too roomy can negatively affect the integrity and stability of your feet. Adjustable shoes can offset this issue. This is why shoes with an adjustable fit — such as laces, buckles, straps, or closures with fabric fasteners — are better than slip-on shoes with no customized fit. Your feet can also change a bit from day to day and even during each day, so the best thing for your feet is to have shoes that can be adjusted for comfort and proper fit.
- Don’t wear worn-out shoes. Don’t keep old shoes that have seen too much wear. If the heels and treads of your shoes are worn down, throw away those shoes. Wearing shoes that are worn-out can make your condition worse and cause pain.
What Brands Help With Morton’s Neuroma?
Several shoe brands and models are known to help specifically with Morton’s Neuroma, including:
- Alegria Joleen. This shoe features a roomy toe box, an orthopedic-grade latex and cork footbed, a low profile, and adjustability.
- Vionic Sierra. These offer ample toe room, are firm and flexible, and have a removable orthotic insert for better arch support.
- Birkenstock Bennington ankle boot. This brand has metatarsal support from a removable latex and cork footbed, a deep heel cup, a wide toe box, arch support, and a soft leather upper.
- Ecco Soft VII sneaker. This shoe features a generous toe box, a removable comfort insole with arch support, and a narrow heel for a snug fit with no slippage.
- Altra Escalante. This one is a fitness shoe with a foot-shaped toe box and a knit upper for stretch.
If you or a loved one suffers from Morton’s Neuroma, reach out to Dr. Schoene at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Association. Dr. Schoene would be happy to schedule an appointment to assess your condition and provide you with treatment options. You can schedule your appointment via phone or through our secure online messaging service.