Morton's neuroma is where a nerve in your foot is irritated or damaged. The symptoms can often be eased with treatments you can try yourself.
Check if you have Morton's neuroma
The main symptoms of Morton's neuroma include:
- a shooting, stabbing or burning pain
- feeling like a small stone is stuck under your foot
Some people may also have tingling or numbness in their foot.
The symptoms may be worse when you move your foot or wear tight or high-heeled shoes. It often gets worse over time.
It occurs most often at about 55 years of age. It is over 4 times more common in women than in men.
How you can ease the pain yourself
If you go to your GP, they'll usually suggest you try these things first:
- rest and raise your foot when you can
- hold an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every few hours
- take ibuprofen or paracetamol
- wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole
- use soft insoles or pads you put in your shoes
- try to lose weight if you're overweight
- wear high heels or tight, pointy shoes
A pharmacist can help
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- the best painkiller to take
- soft pads or insoles for your shoes – ask for metatarsal pads
When to see your GP
You should see your GP if:
- the pain is severe or stopping you doing your normal activities
- the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
- the pain hasn't improved after treating it yourself for 2 weeks
- you have any tingling or numbness in your foot
- you have diabetes as foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
- always there and so bad it’s hard to think or talk
- you can’t sleep
- it’s very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- always there
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- comes and goes
- is annoying but doesn’t stop you doing things like going to work
Treatment for Morton's neuroma
Your GP can:
- look at your foot to see if it's Morton's neuroma
- refer you to a foot specialist if they think you need further treatment
Treatment from a foot specialist
Treatments from a foot specialist, such as a podiatrist or foot and ankle surgeon, may include:
- specially made soft pads or insoles to take pressure off the painful area of your foot
- painkilling injections
- non-surgical treatments, such as using heat to treat the nerve (radiofrequency ablation)
- foot surgery if you have very severe symptoms or other treatments aren't working
Referral to a podiatrist on the health services may not be available to everyone and waiting times can be long.
You can pay to see a podiatrist privately.
Causes of Morton's neuroma
Morton's neuroma is caused by an irritated or damaged nerve between the toe bones.
It's often linked to:
- wearing tight, pointy or high-heeled shoes
- doing a lot of running, or other sports or activities that place pressure on the feet
- having other foot problems, such as flat feet, high arches, bunions or hammer toes
More useful links
The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.
For further information see terms and conditions.