For all my years of running, my feet have held up pretty well. My hips and knees have had various maladies over the years but feet and ankles (especially after I gave up soccer and basketball) have never given me any major problems. Until recently.
A few months ago, I started feeling a hard, sometimes painful, but mostly annoying, spot on the ball of my foot. It didn’t bother me too much when wearing sneakers and excercising but I definitely felt it when I was barefoot. Without any padding, it felt like I was walking with a quarter under my foot.
After some internet sleuthing and some talk with fellow running club members, I self-diagnosed myself with a Morton’s neuroma.
What is it?
Like another pesky running foot injury, a Morton’s neuroma involves the plantar nerve. In this case, the plantar nerve, which runs along the bottom of the forefoot, is rubbing against a ligament. If this rubbing happens over an extended period of time, the nerve becomes inflammed and enlarged. It’s most often felt between the third and fourth toes.
What are some of the symptoms?
Some of the most common symptoms of a neuroma are:
- Foot cramping
- Foot numbness
- The sensation of walking on a lump
- A tingling sensation between the toes
- Burning, stinging, stabbing, or shooting pain in the ball of the affected foot
What are the possible causes?
The two biggest culprits are pinching and heel elevation. The heel elevation (stretching of the nerves) is often from wearing high heels. That was not my problem. The pinching or constriction from tight or poor fitting atheletic shoes is often the other big originating factor in a neuroma.
How do you fix it?
Ibuprofen can first help alleviate some of the inflammation in the nerve.
The other option is to change your running shoes and look for options with larger toe boxes that will help alleviate the pressure in the forefoot.
Morton’s neuromas are not dangerous but they can be annoying and uncomfortable. You can continue to exercise if the symptoms aren’t severe but you’ll eventually have to address the root cause if you want to correct the problem.
Some rest, some aspirin and a new pair of shoes helped improve my neuroma. If those don’t work for you, a doctor can potentially provide a cortisone shot to shrink it and relieve symptoms.