Morton's neuroma

Forefoot pain

What is it

A Morton’s neuroma is a swelling / scarring within the nerve on the ball of the foot which supplies two of the toes. 80% of Mortons neuromas are found between the third and fourth toes with the remaining 20% being between the second and third toes. Mortons neuromas do not occur between the first and second or fourth and fifth toes. The cause is scarring of the nerve as it is rubbed between the metatarsal heads. Symptoms are pain on the ball of the foot, the feeling of walking on a marble or hot stone and numbness of part of the affected toes. This is a commonly over-diagnosed condition by non-foot and ankle surgeons as it can be confused with metatarsalgia (please see the separate metatarsalgia page).

Non-surgical options

Non-operative treatment includes wearing wide and flat shoes, using dome insoles and taking simple painkillers.

Surgical options

Before any invasive treatments take place we recommend assessment by a fellowship trained foot and ankle surgeon.

Treatments include

  • injection which can help about half of people with this condition 
  • ‍an operation to remove the whole nerve together with the scarred part. This is more effective than the injection but it is done under general anaesthetic and has some more risks

Risks of surgery

All surgical procedures carry some risk. These risks are usually rare, but can include infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding structures such as tendons or nerves, numbness, dysfunction of foot, ongoing pain, unsightly scar, painful scar, wound healing problems, swelling. There is also a risk that the procedure does not work fully and that the patient is left with some ongoing symptoms.

There are also some medical risks to surgery such as a clot in the leg (DVT), clot in the lung (pulmonary embolus or PE). The general anaesthetic has rare risks of problems such as heart attack, stroke, chest infection and in extremely rare circumstances, death.

The operation will give permanent numbness to part of 2 toes. Having said this patients are generally very happy as their pain symptoms are fully removed

What to expect after surgery

Expected recovery milestones