Treating Morton's neuroma 

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. 

Non-surgical treatments

If Morton's neuroma is diagnosed early, treatment will aim to reduce the pressure on the affected nerve. This is usually the nerve between the third and fourth toe bones (metatarsals).

Your GP or podiatrist (foot specialist) may recommend:

  • changing the type of shoes you usually wear – shoes with a wider toe area may help ease the pressure on the nerve in your foot
  • using orthotic devices – such as a support for the arch of your foot to help relieve the pressure on the nerve 
  • painkilling medicationanti-inflammatory painkillers or a course of steroid injections into the affected area of your foot may help ease the pain and inflammation
  • numbing injections – alcohol and local anaesthetic is injected into your foot using ultrasound for guidance; studies have shown that this type of treatment is effective

Resting your foot and massaging your toes may also help to relieve the pain. You can make an ice pack by freezing a small bottle of water and rolling it over the affected area.

Cryotherapy is a non-surgical treatment where very cold temperatures are used to destroy affected nerve tissue and disrupt its blood supply. It can be used to treat Morton's neuroma but isn't widely available in the UK.

Surgery

Surgery for Morton's neuroma is usually a treatment of last resort. It may be recommended if you have severe pain in your foot or if non-surgical treatments haven't worked.

Surgery is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, on an outpatient basis, which means you won't need to stay in hospital overnight. The operation can take up to 30 minutes.

The surgeon will make a small incision, either on the top of your foot or on the sole. They may try to increase the space around the nerve (nerve decompression) by removing some of the surrounding tissue, or they may remove the nerve completely (nerve resection). If the nerve is removed, the area between your toes may be permanently numb.

After the procedure you'll need to wear a special protective shoe until the affected area has healed sufficiently to wear normal footwear. It can take up to four weeks to make a full recovery.

Most people (about 75%) who have surgery to treat Morton's neuroma have positive results and their painful symptoms are relieved.

Complications

As with all surgery, complications can occur after having an operation for Morton's neuroma. You should discuss these with your surgeon before having the procedure.

Infection around the toes and thickening of the skin on the sole of the foot (plantar keratosis), which may require further treatment, are two possible complications that can occur following surgery.

Preventing Morton's neuroma

Wearing shoes that fit properly and that have plenty of room in the toe area may help prevent Morton's neuroma.




Look after your feet

Your feet take the weight of your whole body, so foot problems can quickly lead to knee, hip and back pain. In this video, a podiatrist talks about the importance of caring for your feet and explains some of the most common foot problems and treatments.

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

Page last reviewed: 11/11/2013

Next review due: 11/11/2015