The Connection Between Morton’s Neuroma and Those High Heels

A Morton’s neuroma can make each step feel like you’re walking on a marble, and unfortunately, women are up to 10 times more likely to develop this condition, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The most common cause of Morton’s neuroma is ill-fitting footwear, including high heels.

Dr. Mark Forman and our experienced team at Put Your Feet First excel at treating Morton’s neuroma with conservative, nonsurgical approaches. If every step you take is painful, it might be time to trade in your high heels for another pair of shoes.

Let’s explore the connection between Morton’s neuroma and your high heels — and what you can do to get relief.

What is a neuroma?

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), a neuroma is sometimes called a pinched nerve or a nerve tumor. Morton’s neuroma is a growth of nerve tissue between your third and fourth toe.

Although you might expect to see a lump (especially if you already feel like you’re walking on a marble), a neuroma is more like thickened tissue (benign nerve tissue growth) rather than a hard lump you can see. Usually this condition just develops on one foot at a time, but it can develop on either of your feet.

You might suspect you have Morton’s neuroma if you have:

  • The sensation that there’s a pebble in your shoe
  • Pain that increases while wearing tight shoes or while walking
  • A burning sensation
  • Numbness
  • Shooting pains
  • Tingling that increases over time

Many people also find the pain dissipates when they’re off their feet at night.

Why your high heels may make Morton’s neuroma worse

Wearing high-heeled shoes, especially ones with a narrow or pointy toe box, can impact your foot health. This type of shoe puts a lot of added pressure on the ball of your foot. They also squeeze your toes, which not only increases the risk of developing a neuroma, but can exacerbate your symptoms if you already have one.

After months (or years), the nerves in your toes start to become compressed, which can lead to the development of a neuroma. You can reduce your risk of a stress injury by not wearing high heels day after day.

If you start to notice pain when you wear high heels (or any other shoes for that matter), or you think you have Morton’s neuroma, Dr. Forman suggests switching to more comfortable and supportive shoes.

Finding the right shoes

High heels aren’t the only shoes that can hurt your feet. Constant strain on your feet from wearing too-tight shoes or from the stress of high impact sports like soccer, tennis, or running, can also contribute to neuromas.

A well-fitting pair of shoes should:

  • Offer the right kind of support for your arches
  • Have enough space for orthotics (if needed)
  • Have a low heel

Shoes should also fit correctly despite the size, as not all shoes fit the same way. So buy what fits you even if it’s not your “normal” size.

For the healthiest feet, wear the right type of shoe for any given activity. For example, wear running shoes when you run and high-top hiking boots when you go hiking.

Finding relief from Morton’s neuroma

Even after you trade in stilettos for a more comfortable pair of shoes, you might still need additional treatments.

Morton’s neuroma can be treated with a variety of nonsurgical methods including using orthotics, applying cold compresses to your feet, taking anti-inflammatory medication, or getting a cortisone injection. According to the AAOS, nearly 80% of individuals with Morton’s neuroma find relief through a combination of these treatments.

If you’re overweight, you might find that losing weight helps to eliminate additional strain on your feet.

If your Morton’s neuroma makes walking painful, we can help. To learn more about Morton’s neuroma or to explore your treatment options, call our office in Scottsdale, Arizona, to book an appointment or visit us online.

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