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Morton Neuroma

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Morton Neuroma

(Interdigital Neuroma; Intermetatarsal Neuroma)


Morton neuroma is thickening of tissue around a nerve in the foot. It can affect any of the toes in the foot. It most often affects the nerves that run between the third and fourth or between the second and third toes. If left untreated, it can lead to long term foot pain or nerve damage.

Nerves of the Foot.

Foot Anatomy Nerve and musclehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=50415041exh41927b_ma.jpgexh41927b_ma.jpgNULLjpgFoot Anatomy Nerve and muscleNULL\\filer01a\Intellect\images\exh41927b_ma.jpgNULL14NULL2004-05-04280390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Morton's neuromas are caused by inflammation of the nerve. Nearby bones and ligaments rub against the nerves and irritate them. This can be caused by:

  • Wearing certain shoes
  • Certain foot conditions or injuries

Risk Factors

Morton neuroma is more common in women. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Wearing shoes that are:
    • Narrow or have high heels
    • Too tight
  • Health conditions that affect the feet, such as:
    • Obesity
    • Feet that are flat or have high arches
    • Bunions
    • Hammertoes
  • Injuries to the foot
  • Repeated trauma to the foot—such as with certain sports


Morton neuroma may cause:

  • Burning, pain, tingling, and numbness—often shooting into the toes
  • Foot discomfort that is worse while walking
  • Feeling of a lump between the toes
  • Short-term relief of symptoms when:
    • Taking off the shoes
    • Flexing the toes
    • Rubbing the feet


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the foot. The doctor may also check the person's shoes. This is often enough to diagnose Morton neuroma.

To confirm the diagnosis, imaging tests may be done. They will check the foot and surrounding structures. This may be done with:

Injections of local anesthetic may also be done for diagnosis.


The goal is to ease symptoms and relieve the nerve inflammation. Options may include:

  • Footwear adjustments, such as:
    • Switching to low-heeled, wide-toed shoes with good arch support
    • Wearing shoe inserts to correct a foot abnormality
    • Wearing padding in the shoes and/or between the toes
  • Shockwaves, electrical stimulation, or massage applied to the foot
  • Medicines by injection—to ease inflammation and pain

If these treatments do not help, surgery may be advised. It may involve removing the neuroma. This usually eases symptoms but may leave a numb feeling at the site.


To help reduce the risk of Morton neuroma:

  • Avoid wearing tight and/or high-heeled shoes.
  • Reach and keep a healthy body weight.
  • Wear roomy, properly fitting athletic footwear—if you play sports.




  • Bhatia M, Thomson L. Morton's neuroma - Current concepts review. J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2020;11(3):406-409.
  • Morton's neuroma. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15118-mortons-neuroma.
  • Morton neuroma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/morton-neuroma.
  • Morton's neuroma. OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/mortons-neuroma.
  • Morton's neuroma (intermetatarsal neuroma). Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/mortons-neuroma.htm?terms=morton%27s%20neuroma.


  • Mark Arredondo, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.