Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: What can I do about foot pain caused by Morton's neuroma?

Q. I have pain in the ball of my foot, which my doctor thinks is caused by a Morton's neuroma. How did I get this and what can I do about it?

A. Morton's neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue between the bones at the base of the toes (in the ball of the foot). It is caused by chronic injury or compression of the nerve tissue and can cause aching pain, a burning sensation, pins and needles, and numbness of the toes. A neuroma usually occurs between the bones of the third and fourth toes and occasionally between the second and third toes.

Morton's neuroma is about 10 times more common in women than in men. In most cases, narrow, pointed shoes and high heels cause the problem by producing inflammation and putting pressure on the ball of the foot. Less often, Morton's neuroma develops because of physical activities that cause traumatic stress to the foot, such as running or racquet sports.

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