Morton’s Neuroma

Morton neuroma is an injury to the nerve between the toes, which causes thickening and pain. It commonly affects the nerve that travels between the third and fourth toes.


The exact cause is unknown. Doctors believe the following may play a role in the development of this condition:

  • Wearing tight shoes and high heels
  • Abnormal positioning of toes
  • Flat feet
  • Forefoot problems, including bunions and hammer toes
  • High foot arches

Morton neuroma is more common in women than in men.


Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling in the space between the third and fourth toes
  • Toe cramping
  • Sharp, shooting, or burning pain in the ball of the foot and sometimes toes
  • Pain that increases when wearing shoes or pressing on the area
  • Pain that gets worse over time

In rare cases, nerve pain occurs in the space between the second and third toes. This is not a common form of Morton neuroma, but treatment is similar.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider can usually diagnose this problem by examining your foot. A foot x-ray may be done to rule out bone problems. An MRI may be necessary.


Nonsurgical treatment is tried first. Your doctor may recommend any of the following:

  • Padding and taping the toe area
  • Shoe inserts
  • Changes to footwear, such as wearing shoes with wider toe boxes or flat heels
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Injections
  • Physical therapy

Outlook (Prognosis)

Nonsurgical treatment can improve symptoms at times. Surgery to remove the neuroma is sometimes necessary.

Possible Complications

Morton neuroma can make walking difficult. Persons with this foot condition may also have trouble with activities that put pressure on the foot, such as pressing the gas pedal while driving. It may hurt to wear certain types of shoes, such as high-heels.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have persistent pain or tingling in your foot or toe area.


Avoid ill-fitting shoes. Wear shoes with a wide toe box or flat heels.