Foot ache after working? It may very well be Morton’s neuroma

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Since your feet absorb more force than any other part of your body (especially when running), the pain can be especially intense when something goes wrong down there. If you’ve had to flinch at every step recently, a common condition called Morton’s neuroma could be the culprit.

Morton’s neuroma, which is characterized by a sharp, burning pain in the sole of the foot, can devastate your exercise plan. Thankfully, there are a few simple home fixes you can use to ease your symptoms and get back on the road as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Morton’s neuroma and what causes it?

Morton’s neuroma describes the enlargement of tissue around a nerve in the ball of the foot, usually between the second and third toes (although sometimes between the third and fourth toes). It occurs when the nerve is irritated or damaged and becomes inflamed from “mechanical stress” triggered by:

  • A running shoe that is too narrow
  • Doing too much, too soon
  • Bad running technique
  • Overtraining
  • Tight calves
  • Flat feet
  • Bunions
  • Claw foot
  • High arches

    Morton’s neuroma is most common in people between 40 and 50, but it can appear at any age, often developing unexpectedly, and getting worse over time. If you fail to take action, this excruciating and frustrating condition can lead to permanent nerve damage that will leave you parked on the sofa for the long term.

    If the Morton’s neuroma is detected early, the inflamed tissue around the nerve calms down and the symptoms go away on their own. However, in an uncontrolled manner, the irritated nerve thickens and becomes increasingly painful due to the increasing pressure.

    What are the Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?

    The most prominent symptom of Morton’s neuroma is intermittent pain that begins when you put pressure or weight on the foot – either while lacing your sneakers or after leaving – and only subsides when you take off your shoes and massage the foot area.

    It can feel like a sharp or dull sting from the ball of your foot, although some runners only feel the pain in their toes. People often compare the feeling of standing on a pebble or marble, crumpled sock, or even razor blades.

    The area may throb or sting when the pain is radiating, or it may feel numb with tingling. Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma can be intense and some people have difficulty walking because the pain is so severe. However, there is no noticeable swelling.

    Often times, the first symptom of Morton’s neuroma is numbness. So if you lose that feeling in your toes every now and then, it is a sign to go ahead with home remedies. If you’re further down the line – with excruciating pain and limping – chances are you’ll need surgery called a neurectomy to remove part of the nerve.

    How do you treat Morton’s neuroma?

    If you experience foot pain, you should see a doctor or podiatrist immediately for an accurate assessment. They’ll usually be able to track down Morton’s neuroma by manipulating the foot, but may refer you for an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI scan to rule out other causes.

    Once diagnosed, you may be advised to change your shoes, take pain medication, and try stretching exercises. If the pain persists, you may be referred to steroids Injections to calm the nerve, “in the worst case with an operation,” says podiatrist Dina Gohil, founder of GD Podologist and ambassador of CCS Foot Care.

    The longer the symptoms last, the more difficult it can be to fix the problem.

    The longer the symptoms last, the more difficult it can be to fix the problem. So, use every tool in your arsenal to help manage minor aches and pains at home. “Ice the area, try to keep your foot as high as possible, and wear insoles or pads to spread your forefoot,” Gohil says. “Take pain medication as needed. You can also apply anti-inflammatory gels to the area. ‘

    Also give your foot a chance to repair. That means taking a tactical break from regular running to do less stressful activities like swimming. “Since Morton’s neuroma is usually associated with repetitive exercise, depending on the severity, it might be a good idea to rest and let the foot heal first before continuing with your workout,” Gohil adds.

    Use your free time on the couch and invest in fresh running shoes. “You want a shoe that is wide enough to prevent pinching your toes and forefoot,” she says. It is also worth adding metatarsal pads to your shoes that sit under the center of the foot and relieve the nerve so it can recover.

    Will Morton’s Neuroma Disappear?

    About a third of people with Morton’s neuroma feel better after changing shoes and using metatarsal pads. Before you buy, test running shoes by removing the liner or insole and standing on it – if your foot is wider than the liner it will compress your metatarsal bones and irritate the nerve.

    If you have Morton’s neuroma, you may find that your symptoms come and go for several years. If the condition flares up, your workout will likely be paused for a while. But with the right care and sufficient rest, you’ll be back on the starting line in no time.

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