Do you often feel like there's a stone inside your shoe, but find that when you take off the shoe, there's nothing there? This can get quite annoying and even painful after a while. The good news is that it's not your imagination playing tricks on you. This feeling of stepping on an invisible stone is usually caused by a condition called Morton's neuroma. Here's a closer look.
What is Morton's neuroma?
Morton's neuroma is a condition that affects a nerve that runs through the ball of your foot. The tissue around the nerve thickens, putting pressure on the nerve and leading to the sensation of stepping on a stone. Some patients also experience pain in the ball of their foot or a burning, tingling sensation in this area. Usually, the sensation and pain are centralized around the area between your third and fourth toes, but they may be located further to either side of the foot in some instances.
What causes Morton's neuroma?
Anything that causes tissue inflammation around the nerve in question can lead to Morton's neuroma. Usually, it can be traced back to wearing shoes that place too much pressure on the ball of the foot. High heels are a common culprit, though any shoes that have too narrow of a toe box can also be to blame. Participating in high-impact sports like running and long-jumping can also contribute to Morton's neuroma, especially if you do so when wearing shoes that are too narrow.
How can you treat Morton's neuroma?
If you're just beginning to notice symptoms of Morton's neuroma, you may be able to treat the problem at home. Stop wearing high heels, take time off of sports, and only wear shoes with a wide toe box. Ice your foot for 15 – 20 minutes several times per day or whenever it gets sore. These practices should reduce inflammation in the ball of your foot, alleviating pressure on the nerve. If your symptoms have been lingering for a long time or if they don't respond to the treatment above, contact a podiatrist, like one at Plaza Podiatry. He or she may recommend corticosteroid injections to speed healing. In the most serious of cases, surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the nerve by cutting nearby tissues.
Morton's neuroma can be a real annoyance, but most people recover with conservative treatments like rest and ice therapy. Once you're symptom-free, you can keep the condition from returning by ensuring you wear shoes that fit properly and don't put pressure on the front of your foot.