What is Morton's neuroma?

Akash Bajaj, MD

There are many causes of foot pain, but if you are experiencing a sharp, stabbing pain that feels better when you stop walking and massage your foot, you may have what's known as Morton's neuroma. While it has a scary sounding name, this condition is benign and fortunately highly treatable.

In basic terms, a neuroma is an enlargement or thickening of a nerve in the foot in the area between the toes, usually in the third interspace between the third and fourth toes, followed by the second interspace between the second and third toes. Morton's neuromas can rarely affect the fourth and first interspaces.

It is also sometimes referred to as an intermetatarsal neuroma, interdigital neuroma, Morton's metatarsalgia, and perineural fibrosis or entrapment neuropathy.

If you have a Morton's neuroma, there is a 15% chance you will develop it in both feet. Morton's neuromas occur most commonly in women who are between 30 to 50 years old, often related to poor fitting shoes.


James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
A neuroma in the area between the third and fourth toes or between the second and third toes is known as a Morton's neuroma. Women are roughly seven times more likely to develop a Morton's neuroma than men. At greatest risk are women ages 30 to 60 who wear tight shoes.
A burning sensation in the foot is most likely Morton’s neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is characterized by pain located between the third and fourth metatarsals (the long bones of your foot). A burning sensation is present and patients will complain of numbness, tingling and loss of sensation in the affected area. It is caused by a pivoting on the 3rd and 4th metatarsals that can cause a shear force. This shear force between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals entraps the nerve, which passes through the metatarsals and causes inflammation. The inflammation is what causes the pain. Significant motion from the bony articulations of the foot more commonly occur between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals, which can cause an irritation to the nerve that runs between them. (This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program)

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