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What is Morton's Neuroma?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Morton's neuroma is a type of medical condition that affects the space between the third and fourth toes. When the lateral plantar nerve meshes with the medial plantar nerve, the result is an enlarged nerve that can cause numbness and pain within the foot area. Since the two combined nerves are larger than most other nerves leading to the toe area, any pressure placed upon this enlarged nerve causes pain.

The cause of Morton's neuroma is largely unknown, though it is believed that this condition mostly affects people who have flat feet. Flat feet can often cause both the lateral nerve and the medial nerve to be pulled towards the middle of the foot. When the two nerves are forced together, Morton's neuroma is often the result. Further, people who frequently wear confining shoes may experience this type of foot condition. This is precisely why women tend to suffer from this condition more than men, since women often wear tighter shoes.

High heeled shoes force a person's body weight to be transferred to the front of the foot, which may cause the two nerves to collide. Thus, it is best to wear shoes that do not have an extremely high heel. Likewise, any shoes that have a very tight toe area can also cause the two nerves to combine. When improper shoes are worn, even the slightest enlargement of the nerves can cause a great deal of pain.

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People who are suffering from Morton's neuroma generally experience a great amount of pain between the third and fourth toes. This type of pain can be severe or dull, and is often lessened by taking pressure off of the foot area. The only way to properly diagnose Morton's neuroma is to visit with a licensed podiatrist.

Through an x-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a podiatrist can determine whether or not a person is suffering from Morton's neuroma. Frequently, surgery is the only way to eliminate the swollen never, though other treatments are usually attempted first. In most instances, a podiatrist will pad the affected area, tape the foot, or ask a patient to wear arch supports. All of these factors can help reduce the size of the swollen nerve while alleviating pain.

Alternately, some patients may be given alcohol injections in order to harden the nerve, which, in turn, reduces swelling. Any person experiencing pain or numbness within the foot area should seek the attention of a podiatrist. Morton's neuroma must be treated properly in order for nerves to return to their normal state.

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