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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.

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:

  • a shooting, stabbing or burning pain
  • feeling like a small stone is stuck under your foot

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.

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

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.

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