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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center

Neuroma (Morton’s Neuroma)

Morton's neuroma is a painful foot condition that commonly affects the areas between the third and fourth toe and the ball of the foot, although other areas of the foot can also be susceptible to this condition.

Morton’s neuroma is caused by compression or irritation of the nerve leading to the toes, which causes the tissues surrounding the nerve to swell. Women are more likely than men to develop a neuroma. When a person has Morton's neuroma, it can feel as if they are walking on stones or marbles.


There are risk factors that can increase a person's chance of having Morton's neuroma. Ill-fitting high heels or shoes can add pressure to the toe or foot area. Jogging, running and any other sports that involve constant impact to the foot area can make a person more susceptible to this condition. If a person has flat feet, bunions or any other foot deformities, it can also put them at a higher risk for developing Morton's neuroma.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

There are generally no outward signs of Morton's neuroma, but there are certain symptoms to look for. Burning in the ball of the foot and tingling and numbness in the toe areas are possible signs of Morton's neuroma. Pain can increase when wearing tight, narrow shoes or being active, but may be better at night or after a period of rest.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. A physician will check for any masses or tender spots between the bones of the foot. During the examination, your doctor may also apply pressure to the foot or toe area to replicate the pain a person experiences when active. Range of motion tests and X-rays are other options a doctor may offer a patient to rule out other conditions or problems.


Most neuromas resolve with conservative treatment methods. Treating Morton's neuroma can be as simple as changing the type of shoes a person wears. Patients are often advised to wear wider, flat shoes with a soft sole. This can help reduce the pressure on the irritated nerve. Orthotic supports can also be helpful. Cortisone injections can to help reduce swelling and pain in the foot area.

If these methods don't relieve the symptoms, surgery may be necessary. During surgery, your surgeon may release the tissue around the nerve that is causing this pain, or remove the affected portion of the nerve completely. This procedure is done through a small surgical incision. There is a short recovery time for this type of surgery, and afterward, patients can return to their normal lifestyle.

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an affiliate of:
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center