Last update: 15 February 2020
Do you suffer from foot pain that resembles electric shocks in the forefoot, followed by numbness in your toes? If you experience this, it can be symptoms caused by neuroma, also known as Morton’s neuroma.
This problem is due to a thickening of the nerves located between the toes, as a result of compression or friction. This leads to inflammation, numbness, burning or a sensation of small electrical discharges felt in the toes.
Although there is no outward sign of this condition, neuroma triggers several uncomfortable sensations in different areas of the foot.
- Numbness and tingling in your toes
- Sensation of burning in the forefoot
- Sensation of having a bunched up sock under your toes
- Sensation of small electrical shocks in your toes
- Toe cramps
These symptoms are aggravated if you remain standing for long periods of time or if you wear narrow shoes that are not suitable for your feet.
If you suffer from neuroma, this can be an issue when performing daily activities:
- Putting your shoes on
- Walking (you will sometimes feel like you have a pebble in your shoe)
- Stepping on the accelerator of your vehicle
Specifically, you will find it difficult to perform activities that require you to apply pressure to your foot.
In general, plantar neuroma is more prevalent among women than men. The exact cause of this problem for both men and women is unknown. However, podiatrists believe that certain factors could be at the origin of its development.
- Wearing inappropriate footwear (too tight, ill-fitting or high heels)
- Suffering from flat foot
- Having an abnormal toe position
- Having bunions (Hallux abducto valgus)
- Suffering from hammer toes
Neuroma is not a problem that can always be prevented. However, the proper selection of your footwear can promote prevention and prevent the recurrence of this problem.
Adequate footwear must meet certain criteria:
- Have low heels
- Provide sufficient spacing for toes
- Properly support the arch of the foot
Avoid wearing high heels and narrow shoes. This will ensure you don’t apply unnecessary pressure on the nerves in your feet.
If you believe you are suffering from Morton’s neuroma, see your podiatrist. A diagnosis can be made on site by palpation and by compressing the front portion of the foot (Mulder’s test). If the neuroma is big enough, by extending the toes upwards, a plantar bump can be seen.
If necessary, your podiatrist can have you pass other tests that are more precise:
- Ultrasound: permits identification of the neuroma. However, this is not the most accurate method for determining its limits.
- MRI: to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the neuroma.
- X-ray: to rule out other causes of the pain (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, stress fracture, etc.).
Once your podiatrist has clearly established a diagnosis, you can enjoy professional care.
- Wearing orthoses: helps to relieve pressure, as it raises and separates bones to reduce nerve pressure
- Application of ice: to relieve your pain
- Cortisone injections: to reduce swelling of the nerve and relieve pain
In some cases, surgery may be necessary.