10 Signs You May Have a Morton's Neuroma by a Physio Clinic
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10 Signs You May Have A Morton’s Neuroma

James McCormack
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Morton’s Neuroma is a painful condition of the ball of the foot in the web space of the 3rd and 4th toes. It can be a debilitating condition that reduces your physical activity level due to the intensity of the symptoms.

Morton’s Neuroma is more common in middle-aged women, and a UK study found a prevalence of 50.2% in males and 87.2% in females per 100,000 patients presenting in primary care. Based on my clinical experience, this article will highlight 10 signs you may have a Morton’s Neuroma.

10 Signs You May Have a Morton’s Neuroma

1: Localised Pain

Morton’s Neuroma causes pain between the web space of the 3rd and 4th toes in the early stages of the injury. The pain may be a feint ache in the background after walking, standing or impact activities initially. Most people disregard these symptoms as they don’t affect them daily before becoming more consistent with a quicker onset during activity.

2: Numbness of Tingling

Morton’s Neuroma primarily affects the interdigital nerve, leading to swelling and thickening of the fibrous tissue around the nerve. The resulting nerve compression can lead to numbness in the 3rd and 4th toes or a sensation of pins and needles in your forefoot.

3: Radiating Pain

As the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma deteriorate, the pain can radiate into the 3rd and 4th metatarsals and remain painful in the web space. Symptoms are more likely to radiate when the nerve is highly irritated due to compression from impact activity such as walking or running.

Picture of a person walking in red high heel shoes

4: Narrow Shoes are painful

High heels are a complete disaster when it comes to managing the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma. When a toe box is narrow, it compresses the nerve, leading to heightened pain and inflammation.

When wearing high heels, greater force is placed on the forefoot and combined with a narrow toe box; it is a recipe for an unhappy foot.

5: Worsening of pain with Activity

Impact activities such as running, jumping, hopping, and sports such as tennis, squash, and football are all likely to irritate and worsen the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma. Increased force and vibration are placed through the neuroma, with these activities leading to increased pain and inflammation.

6: Sensation of a pebble in your shoe

As the neuroma becomes increasingly irritated, patients report the sensation of a pebble or stone in their shoe. Increases in swelling and fibrotic thickening around the neuroma increase the size of the neuroma, leading to this unique sensation.

Picture of a person holding a red forefoot as they have a painful morton's neuroma

7: Symptoms worsening over time

If someone continues with the same activities or wearing the same shoes that caused their neuroma, it is unlikely to improve but worsen over time. The neuroma can become more sensitive and increasingly irritable.

8: Foot Cramps and muscle tightness

As Morton’s Neuroma pain is primarily in the ball of the foot and sometimes in the toes, patients subconsciously begin to reduce the pressure through their forefoot. As a result, greater stress is placed on the foot’s intrinsic muscles, and the calf muscle goes through a reduced lengthening cycling during gait. The combination of these factors leads to muscle cramps and tightness.

9: Pain when pressing between your toes

The neuroma sits between the webspace of your toes without much fatty tissue or soft tissue surrounding it. As a result, pinching the webspace between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals is often painful in those with Morton’s Neuroma.

10: Easing of pain walking barefoot

Compression of the toes leads to increased irritation of Morton’s Neuroma. So, walking barefoot can allow the toes to spread, reducing the tension and pain levels of an irritated neuroma. It is also helpful to consider wide-fitting cushioned shoes for walking.


We are specialists in treating foot conditions such as Morton’s Neuroma, and you can see one of our Foot and Ankle Specialists in our clinic in Fulham, South West London. 

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