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Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is a painful foot condition that affects one of the nerves between the toes.

What are the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?

You may initially experience a tingling sensation in the space between your toes, which gets worse over time. This eventually develops into a sharp shooting or burning pain in the ball of your foot or at the base of your toes. There may also be some numbness in your toes.

The pain is often worse when walking or wearing shoes that squash the feet. Some people describe walking with Morton’s neuroma as feeling like there’s a small stone stuck under your foot. Removing your shoes and rubbing your foot may reduce the pain.

What causes Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma occurs when one of the nerves between the toe bones becomes irritated, which causes it to become thicker. The exact cause of the irritation is unknown, but it may be caused by the nerve being squashed (compressed), stretched or damaged.
The condition can occur in one foot or both feet. It usually affects the nerve between the third and fourth toes, but sometimes the second and third toes are affected.

Morton’s neuroma can occur at any age, but most often affects middle-aged women. This may be because women tend to wear tight or high-heeled shoes that can put pressure on the feet. It’s also increasingly seen in runners, possibly because of the increased pressure on the toes that occurs when running.

The condition has been linked to:

  • wearing tight, pointy or high-heeled shoes
  • being active and playing sport – particularly running or sports that involve running and placing pressure on the feet, such as racquet sports
  • other foot problems, such as flat feet, high arches, bunions and hammer toes

It’s not clear if these directly cause the condition or just make the symptoms worse.

Pulsed Radiofrequency (PRF) for the treatment of Morton’s Neuroma

 

What is pulsed radiofrequency (PRF)?

It is a treatment that uses radio waves to control pain.  A rapidly-changing electrical current is applied using a needle to a specific nerve which is causing problems.  This causes changes to the nerve which can provide pain relief by preventing pain signals from reaching the spinal cord.  Other signals from this nerve are not blocked. 

What are the benefits?

PRF treatment can give long lasting pain relief for between three to 18 months but everyone experiences the effects in different ways. 

What are the risks?

Overall PRF injections are very safe and serious side-effects or complications are rare.  However, like all injection procedures there are some risks.

Common risks

  • Bruise or tenderness at the site of injection.
  • An increase in your pain – this should only last a few days. 

Rare risks

  • No improvement in pain.
  • Prolonged increase in pain after the procedure.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Injury to nerves – either temporary or permanent.
  • Anaphylaxis – severe allergic reaction to drugs. 

What are the alternatives?

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma will depend on how long you’ve had the condition and its severity. Simple non-surgical treatments are effective for some people. Others may need surgery.

Resting your foot and massaging your toes may also help relieve the pain. Some people also find it useful to hold an ice pack against their foot.

  • Changing your footwear – shoes with a wider toe area may help ease the pressure on the nerve in your foot
  • Losing weight – if you’re overweight, losing weight may reduce the strain on your feet
  • Surgery – Surgery for Morton’s neuroma is usually only recommended if you have very severe pain or if the treatments above haven’t worked.
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