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Morton's neuroma

Morton's neuroma is where a nerve in your foot is irritated or damaged. The symptoms can often be eased with treatments you can try yourself.

Check if you have Morton's neuroma

A picture showing the nerve between the 3rd and 4th toes that becomes irritated in Morton's neuroma

The main symptoms of Morton's neuroma include:

Some people may also have tingling or numbness in their foot.

The symptoms may be worse when you move your foot or wear tight or high-heeled shoes. It often gets worse over time.

How you can ease the pain yourself

If you go to a GP, they'll usually suggest you try these things first:

Do

  • rest and raise your foot when you can
  • hold an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every few hours
  • take ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole
  • use soft insoles or pads you put in your shoes
  • try to lose weight if you're overweight

Don't

  • do not wear high heels or tight, pointy shoes

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • the best painkiller to take
  • soft pads or insoles for your shoes – ask for metatarsal pads

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • the pain is severe or stopping you doing your normal activities
  • the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
  • the pain hasn't improved after treating it yourself for 2 weeks
  • you have any tingling or numbness in your foot
  • you have diabetes – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes

Treatment for Morton's neuroma

A GP can:

  • look at your foot to see if it's Morton's neuroma
  • refer you to a foot specialist if they think you need further treatment

Treatment from a foot specialist

Treatments from a foot specialist, such as a podiatrist or foot and ankle surgeon, may include:

  • specially made soft pads or insoles – to take pressure off the painful area of your foot
  • painkilling injections
  • non-surgical treatments – such as using heat to treat the nerve (radiofrequency ablation)
  • foot surgery – if you have very severe symptoms or other treatments aren't working

Referral to a podiatrist on the NHS may not be available to everyone and waiting times can be long.

You can pay to see a podiatrist privately.

Causes of Morton's neuroma

Morton's neuroma is caused by an irritated or damaged nerve between the toe bones.

It's often linked to:

  • wearing tight, pointy or high-heeled shoes
  • doing a lot of running, or other sports or activities that place pressure on the feet
  • having other foot problems – such as flat feet, high arches, bunions or hammer toes