Morton’s neuroma is a condition caused by an inflamed nerve in the foot that causes pain, tingling and numbness in the ball of the foot. People who suffer from this condition often complain about feeling as if there is a rolled up sock under the ball of the foot, a lump, a pebble or even a cord.
The pain, which radiates from the ball of the foot towards the third and the fourth toe, can be sharp, electric, burning or dull. The pain worsens during walking, jogging or climbing a hill or a set of stairs, and it gets better when the shoes are off and while resting.
Treatment options for Morton’s neuroma
The first step in treatment of Morton’s neuroma is to eliminate the factors that are causing or aggravating it. This includes shoes that do not fit well, that may cramp the toes and pinch the nerve. Also, abnormal foot mechanics, which means that it moves in an abnormal manner when walking, should be corrected.
Icing the ball of the foot with icepacks and alternating ice with heat pads can bring relief from the pain and tingling or burning sensation. There are also special neuroma pads and insoles that can be worn inside the shoes. Analgesics and steroid injections are often recommended by the doctors.
In case this conservative therapy for Morton’s neuroma fails, surgery may be required. The surgery is done to release the ligament that presses on the nerve or to remove the neuroma. If the neuroma is removed, the toes will be permanently numb, but they will still function normally.
Shockwave therapy for Morton’s neuroma
A recent study published in Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association showed that extracorporeal shockwave therapy can be very effective as treatment for Morton’s neuroma. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy or ESWT is a form of treatment in which strong sound waves are pointed to an injured part of the body, where they cause microtrauma to the tissues.
The body responds to the microtrauma by sending more blood and releasing chemicals that repair and heal the tissues.
ESWT has been used for a long time in the treatment of kidney stones, and it is also widely used to treat plantar fasciitis, which is another painful condition involving the foot. ESWT has been FDA-approved for both of these purposes, but not for the treatment of neuromas.
However, the FDA approval should be expected because a clinical study in which people who suffer from Morton’s neuroma used shockwave therapy showed excellent results. Still, more studies are required in order to prove that this form of treatment is completely safe.