Morton’s Neuroma and Chiropractic Care

There’s an old saying: “If you want to forget your troubles, wear tight shoes.” If you’ve ever had sore feet, you know exactly what that means. When your feet hurt, it’s hard to think about anything else.

Patients with Morton’s Neuroma know this well, as this painful disorder is often compared to the feeling of walking around with a small stone stuck in your shoe. The cause of this pain is a thickening of the tissues surrounding nerves in the foot, which may also cause numbness and tingling sensations. Pain typically centralizes at the ball of the foot. The exact cause is unknown, though the condition is often found in people who habitually wear high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes.

Traditionally, treating Morton’s Neuroma starts with insoles and changing the patient’s footwear. Unfortunately, this treatment is rarely effective. More advanced cases are treated surgically, but studies in the UK have shown that chiropractic treatment may effectively treat the condition without surgery.

What Are the Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?

Image of lower legs and feet showing the nerves Just like the rest of your body, nerves run throughout your feet, including the posterior tibial nerve, sural nerve, medial plantar nerve, and plantar digital nerves. Foot pain results when one of the nerves in your feet sustains damage or becomes irritated.

Morton’s Neuroma is not the only condition that may cause foot pain, so it’s important to undergo an examination to properly diagnose your particular issue. However, common symptoms of Morton’s include:

  • Increased pain when you stand, walk, or wear shoes
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain that extends to the toes
  • Sharp or burning pain in the ball of the foot
  • Swelling between the third and fourth toes – you may also be able to feel a lump there
  • The feeling that there is a lump or marble trapped within the foot (this is what leads to that description of walking with a stone in your shoe)
  • Toes that cramp, curl, or twitch suddenly

To diagnose Morton’s, your doctor uses an orthopedic test that helps gauge plantar nerve compression. This requires you to lie on the table while your chiropractor or doctor grasps your foot, applying moderate pressure to gently squeeze the metatarsal bones together. If you experience your typical symptoms during this examination, especially sharp pain shooting into your toes, you may have Morton’s Neuroma.

Treating Morton’s Neuroma with Chiropractic Care

Your chiropractor begins by reviewing your medical history, performing a physical exam, and completing the orthopedic test for Morton’s Neuroma. Typically, your chiropractor discovers a subluxation in the pelvic region that disrupts the sciatic nerve. As the sciatic affects your feet, correcting this subluxation may offer pain relief in your feet. If a subluxation is discovered in the upper cervical region, this disrupts the phrenic nerve, which is treatable with spinal manipulation and helps ease pain in the arch of the feet.

In addition to treating subluxations, your chiropractor may manipulate the bones of your foot by energetically tugging the toes. This helps relieve the stiffness that often causes these bones to move closer together, which in turns causes them to irritate the nerve. These manipulations in the feet help relieve the pain commonly experienced by Morton’s patients.

Additional Treatment Options

In addition to performing chiropractic manipulations, your provider may also recommend orthotics to provide additional support for your feet. Your chiropractor may also recommend a change in footwear, as certain types of shoes exacerbate symptoms. This is particularly true of high heels, which cause a wide variety of foot issues. The goal of your chiropractor is to not only alleviate the symptoms of your condition – the pain of Morton’s – but also pinpoint what’s causing the condition.

In general, you will be asked to avoid shoes with a high heel or narrow toe, as well as those with thin soles, to help reduce compression forces at the bottom of the feet. If you still experience symptoms, the next step is consultation with an orthotist, who can prescribe an orthotic custom-made for your feet. Surgery is always a last resort.

Causes of Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma develops over time; it is not the result of sudden injury. Proper foot care and wearing appropriate shoes help protect you from developing this condition. The following items raise your risk of Morton’s:

  • A lifestyle that requires you to stand or walk most of the time
  • Conditions that affect toe alignment, such as bunions and hammer toes
  • Having flat feet or high arches without wearing appropriate footwear, such as orthopedic inserts
  • Wearing shoes that compress your toes, including high heels, ballet slippers, and narrow-toed loafers

Each of these cause inflammation and irritation of the nerves in the ball of your foot. Over time, this may lead to Morton’s Neuroma. If you are experiencing foot pain, schedule a consultation with your chiropractor. The sooner you address the problem, the easier it is to resolve.

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