Morton’s Neuroma (No, it’s not cancer!)

Dr.  Chad Garvey, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

It has been said that “When your feet hurt, you hurt all over.”  Despite these true to life words, foot pain is a very common problem.  Intertarsal neuralgia, more commonly known as Morton’s neuroma, is one of these problems that is often described as:

          “I feel like I am walking on a marble!”

“There is a sharp/burning sensation from the ball of my feet to my     toe”

Morton’s neuroma is caused when the nerve that lives between the ball of the feet, known as Metatarsal heads, gets squeezed and/or pinched.  This usually happens during walking and occasionally standing.

Neuromas occur 4x more often in women (uncomfortable shoes anyone?) and usually between the ages of 30-50.  One major theory behind why this happens is the breakdown of one or more of the supportive arches of the foot that provide space for that nerve to live.  When these lose their shape, the foot becomes flatter and risk of nerve pinch increases.

Morton’s neuroma is treated in several different ways, with the least invasive methods being tried 1st:

  • More comfortable shoes with a wider toe box
  • Over the counter or custom fitted orthotic shoe inserts
    • These inserts may also have pads or cushions to unload the nerve
  • Antiinflammatories, either by mouth or within a Physical Therapy session and/or ice
  • Manual Therapy to the foot and ankle, coupled with strengthening of the foot muscles, and even the calf or hip

If these treatments fail, steroid injections and/or surgery to remove the affected nerve may also be considered.  If you experience this or any type of persistent foot pain that is interfering with your life, consult your physical therapist, podiatrist, or physician to get (your feet) on the road to recovery.

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Chad Garvey,  KORT Downtown Clinic Director, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Regis University as well as a post-Doctoral Certificate in Manual Therapy. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (OCS) and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT). In addition, Chad is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Chad is the clinic director. He is a lead instructor for KORT’s orthopaedic residency program in addition to being an instructor to practicing physical therapists and physical therapy students at both the local and national level. He regularly conducts and shares his own research at national physical therapy conferences.

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