7. Morton’s Neuroma

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By Thomas J. Haverbush, M.D.

Transforming patient information into patient understanding.

What if I came into the exam room and told you, you had Morton’s neuroma? You would probably think you had cancer and be very worried.

Well, you know I don’t scare people with medical words they don’t understand. I explain things first in your language. And it isn’t cancer!

What Is It?It is a painful condition of the foot that isn’t a tumor at all. But the term neuroma sounds like that.

This condition of the foot was named for the surgeon who described it long ago. It is a thickening of the nerve at the base of the 3rd and 4th toes typically. The nerve gets caught and irritated between two metatarsal bones. Usually only one foot is affected.

Symptoms

It begins by feeling like there is a wrinkle in your sock. Or maybe like there is an object in your shoe you are stepping on.

Pain is present in the ball of the foot that radiates into the 3rd and 4th toes. Pain increases if shoes are slightly tight. It feels better to take the shoe off and massage the foot. You can’t feel a lump. The 3rd and 4th toes often feel numb.

True Neuroma

To clarify, Morton’s neuroma is not a true neuroma (benign tumor). It is an irritation, enlargement and thickening of a foot nerve caused by pressure.

Nerves in the hand, foot and elsewhere can develop true tumors that are overwhelmingly benign tumors. Benign neuroma tumors are not cancer. They don’t spread, but they enlarge slowly and do cause problems.

Malignant tumors do sometimes occur in nerves.

How I Treat It

• Try wearing comfortable, cushioned, wide shoes for 4 weeks

• Lower heels are the best

• Wider shoes keep from pinching the bones together

• Pads or customized shoe inserts can lift and separate the bones

• Injection of a steroid is needed sometimes

• Surgery is helpful if nothing else works

What Else?

Stress fractures in the feet and arthritis can act like Morton’s neuroma so I have to consider those conditions.

My patients put their trust in me and what I do improves the quality of their lives.

Lakeview Times Orthopaedic Zone

All Orthopaedic Surgery problems including this week’s subject can be evaluated by Dr. Haverbush at his office.

315 Warwick Drive

Alma, Michigan 48801

Phone 989-463-6092

Office is across the street from Gratiot Medical Center.

Please call to make an appointment usually the same week you call.

Attention!! Besides what you read today there is a huge amount of musculoskeletal information on the office website www.orthopodsurgeon.com. Please check it out.

Be well.

Dr. Haverbush

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