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How Is Morton's Neuroma Diagnosed?

How Is Morton's Neuroma Diagnosed?

When you’re in pain, you want a diagnosis as quickly as possible. That’s especially true if you’re walking around with Morton’s neuroma

Fortunately, Stephen Barrett, DPM, and Sequioa DuCasse, DPM, at the US Neuropathy Centers have years of experience quickly diagnosing a wide range of foot and ankle conditions, including Morton’s neuroma.

A closer look at Morton’s neuroma

When you hear “neuroma,” you may feel panic start to set in. Neuromas involve extra tissue growth and are known as noncancerous tumors found on nerves and in other areas of your body. 

But Morton’s neuroma is different. There’s no growth and no tumor. Instead, the existing tissue around the nerve in your foot becomes inflamed and swollen and forms a small lump. 

Morton’s neuroma typically develops between your third and fourth toes. It occurs when those nerves experience an inordinate amount of pressure. Anyone can get Morton’s neuroma, but you’re most at risk if you:

The first sign of Morton’s neuroma is typically pain that onsets gradually. Taking your shoe off and massaging your foot may work to relieve this pain in the beginning. As the condition progresses, you may notice more symptoms, such as:

You may think that you can walk off the pain, but leaving Morton’s neuroma untreated can lead to permanent nerve damage. Here are the steps we take to identify and treat Morton’s neuroma.

The physical examination

When diagnosing Morton’s neuroma, we often begin with a simple physical evaluation of your foot to find a swollen lump between your toes. We carefully apply pressure on certain areas of your foot to assess your pain levels and accurately locate your damaged nerve.

Ruling out other causes

To be thorough, we conduct a series of range-of-motion exercises to ensure that your symptoms aren’t coming from another common cause of joint pain, such as arthritis. 

We may also need the help of an X-ray or an MRI scan to rule out the possibility of a stress fracture or abnormality in your soft tissue. 

Your treatment options

Your treatment plan for Morton’s neuroma begins conservatively with supportive footwear and over-the-counter pain medication. Often, simply relieving the pressure on the affected nerve is enough to alleviate your symptoms. 

As you feel less and less pain, we may recommend that you start a physical therapy program to stretch and loosen the ligaments and tendons in your foot. 

In the most severe cases or those that don’t respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary. We offer a minimally invasive endoscopic decompression procedure that relieves pressure on your nerves. 

We carefully insert the endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic light and camera on one end) into your foot. The light and camera help us accurately locate the affected nerve. With specialized medical instruments, we decompress the nerve, effectively reducing your pain. 

This is a quick treatment that has most patients bearing weight immediately after the procedure and back in athletic shoes the day after. 

How you can help

If you have Morton’s neuroma or if you want to prevent it from happening again, you should:

It’s also a good idea to modify and adjust movements that put pressure on your feet. 

If you’d like more information or suspect you have Morton’s neuroma, don’t hesitate to request an appointment at our Marietta, Georgia, office today.

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