Morton's neuroma is a painful foot condition that often responds to medication and therapy but may require surgery. It can be caused by sports that require a lot of footwork or wearing constricting shoes. There are several ways to relieve the pain associated with the condition, including switching to less physical forms of activity; performing toe-stretching exercises and deep tissue massage.
Morton's neuromas occur in the foot, usually between the third and fourth toes. They are usually non-cancerous areas of tissue growth or a thickening of the tissue around a digital nerve that leads to a toe. The condition causes sharp or burning pain in the ball of the foot. The patient may feel numbness, stinging or burning in the toes. Researchers believe the condition is associated with ligament weakness (see Reference 1).
Morton's neuroma may be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. These shoes squeeze the muscles, ligaments and nerves in the foot and cause pain and inflammation. Women who wear high-heel shoes are at increased risk for developing the condition. In addition, athletes and dancers who place a lot of repetitive stress on their feet are more prone to developing Morton's neuroma. In some cases, the condition may be caused by a birth defect. The condition is 10 times more prevalent in women than men (see Reference 2).
Treatments and Exercise
Purchasing and wearing the proper footwear or arch supports can give some suffers relief. Other non-surgical treatments include cortisone shots and/or prescriptions for anti-inflammatory drugs. In some cases, surgery may be required; however, surgery does not always lead to a satisfactory result (see Reference 2).
Switching to exercise routines that do not involve pounding of the feet can help alleviate the pain. Swimming or rowing exercises provide a good workout, as do weight machines that work the upper body. People with neuromas should avoid any exercise that involves jumping, running, brisk walking or dancing. Wear comfortable, non-binding shoes whenever possible (see Reference 3).
Treat the foot with exercises aimed at relieving pain. Begin by soaking the foot in hot water. After the soak, flex and stretch the toes. During the day, take off your shoes and massage the ball of the foot for several minutes or until the pain subsides (see Reference 3). Doing stretching exercises before any other type of exercise may help prepare the foot for the pounding to come. Keeping the foot elevated whenever possible will reduce the pain. Get the most out of your down time by performing toe-stretching exercises while the foot is propped on a pillow. If these treatments fail to relieve the pain, a surgical approach may be needed (see Reference 1).
- The Stretching Institute: Morton's Neuroma and Morton's Syndrome
- Harvard Women's Health Watch; Recognizing and treating Morton's neuroma; Feb. 2009
- Natural Health; Feet First; Jennifer Pirtle; July/August 2007
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