Morton’s neuroma refers to a relatively common medical condition that is experienced by more than 200,000 adults every year in just the United States alone. It occurs when tissue in the foot thickens around one of the nerves that extends into the toes, putting an abnormal amount of pressure on said nerve. This results in a feeling of pain or irritation in the ball of the foot, and is most commonly reported to be centralized around the third and fourth toes. The chronic tingling and burning sensation can be extremely distracting, and is sometimes compared to walking with a marble underfoot.
The current medical solution for addressing this problem is surgical in nature. In order to decompress the affected nerve, two different Mortons neuroma surgery approaches are generally considered:
In the plantar surgical approach, a small incision is made on the fleshy pad located on the underside of the afflicted foot. This cut is placed over the area containing the thickened tissue that is compressing the nerve, and is generally placed as far away from weight bearing areas as possible. This approach has the benefit of offering the surgeon direct access to the compressed nerve, making the decompression process easier and more precise. The downside is that the foot that is being operated upon generally cannot be walked on until the sutured area is recovered, as doing so places a fairly large amount of stress on the healing incision.
When utilizing a dorsal approach while performing a Mortons neuroma surgery, the surgeon makes an incision on the top of the foot, between the bones of the toes. A spreader is then used to hold the space between the toes apart, revealing the ligament that lies on top of the nerve. This ligament is breached, which allows for access to the nerve, which may then be decompressed. This approach has the benefit of the fact that the patient may immediately walk again after the surgery, but is a bit more protracted and complicated.
Post Operative Recovery
In general, the recovery from both approaches to the surgery is fairly straightforward. If the plantar approach is used, the patient must be vigilant in not using the operated upon foot, lest the healing be negatively affected by excess stress and weight being placed upon the recovering suture. The success rate of the surgery is generally reported to be anywhere between 70-90%.
While most doctors will recommend surgery for treating a Morton’s neuroma, there are in fact some noninvasive options available to the surgery adverse. The Center for Morton’s Neuroma specializes in these types of non surgical treatment, and list a number of alternatives. Corticosteroid injections and platelet rich plasma therapy have all been found to have a positive effect on recovery from this condition, all without requiring any kind of surgical intervention. Stem cell treatments are also being tested, with positive early results. If you are interested in these types of treatment, consult with your physician before proceeding.