A name that perhaps means nothing to some people, but a very unpleasant problem for others. Morton’s neuroma, or metatarsalgia, basically means pain in the forefoot, i.e., the front part of the foot around the instep, most commonly between the 3rd and 4th toes. However, behind the initial pain lies a diagnosis that may eventually require surgery if we keep putting off conservative treatment.
Morton’s neuroma has some typical symptoms, which include pain in the forefoot, initially after longer periods of exertion, such as running, longer walks or standing for any length of time. Sufferers frequently experience pain shooting from the sole to the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones. This pain gradually starts to appear even while at rest, and taking off one’s shoes ceases to give any relief. Besides the pain, other typical symptoms include unpleasant sensations in that part of the foot, reduced or otherwise altered sensitivity, burning, or tingling. All of these are caused by the heads of the metatarsal bones pressing together, placing pressure on the nerves, trapping them.
As with hallux valgus or hammer toes, the most common cause is wearing tight footwear, which presses the toes and the heads of the metatarsal bones together. It is not just narrow- toed shoes that cause this, but also high heels, and especially a combination of the two. Women tend to suffer more from Morton’s neuroma, not only because of the shoes they wear, but also because they have less firm connective tissue than men. This is particularly the result of hormonal changes, pregnancy, and so on. Congenital anatomical deviations or bone growths can also play a role.
One very common phenomenon that accompanies metatarsalgia is flat feet, especially the transverse variety. This is often more of a cause than an effect. So, if you have a fallen arch and your forefoot is painful, you should get it looked at.
Therapy should not focus solely on eliminating the pain, but should be based on working with the foot as such, rectifying the cause of the problem in the fallen and non-functioning arch, changing one’s gait stereotype, and using the toes to bounce off as we walk. Therefore, physiotherapy is the foundation of conservative treatment, which can be complemented by wearing orthopaedic insoles, although only in order to relieve the pain, not as the only means of correcting the problem with the arch. Things that can help to ease the pain include massage and relaxation of the soft tissues of the foot, mobilisation of the toes and small joints in the foot, whirlpool baths, and also wearing Foot Alignment Socks. These ensure that there is enough space between the heads of the metatarsal bones for the nerve structures that run through them. Also, as they improve circulation, they can also alleviate tingling and other unpleasant sensations. These socks, together with other techniques, should become part of one’s daily ritual for relaxing the soft tissues and other structures of the foot as a means of supporting therapy.
If Morton’s neuroma is at a more advanced stage and conservative therapy has long proven unsuccessful, surgery is required to free the trapped nerve. However, the best therapy is always prevention, in an effort to ensure that the problem does not become pathological. For this, we need to wear the correct footwear, give our feet plenty of space and keep them functional; wearing Foot Alignment Socks is an adequate means of prevention.
Have you got your pair yet?