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High Heels and Morton's Neuroma: Yes There is a Connection

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), women are up to eight to ten times more likely to develop Morton’s neuroma than men, and high heels are one of the most common culprits of this painful condition. Jeremy Moran, DPN, and our team of foot specialists offer podiatry services for a range of foot and ankle conditions and injuries in Tomball, Texas.

What is Morton’s neuroma?

Morton’s neuroma is a benign nerve tissue growth (caused by thick or hardened tissue near the nerve) that typically develops between the third and fourth toe of the foot. Sometimes also referred to as a “pinched nerve,” it can feel like there’s a pebble or marble in your shoe when you walk, run, and place pressure on the ball of your foot. They can develop on either foot, but it’s rare for someone to have a neuroma on both feet at the same time. 

Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma

A neuroma’s most common symptom is pain. While it might feel like there’s a ball or pebble under the skin, you won’t see a lump on the ball of your foot. You may also experience numbness or a burning sensation in your toes. The pressure from walking or exercise usually triggers the neuroma pain. However, Morton’s neuroma generally doesn’t cause pain at night, so you won’t have to worry about it interrupting your sleep or keeping you awake at night. 

Wearing high heels and narrow shoes that put pressure on and squeeze your toes can increase the risk of developing Morton’s neuroma and make the pain worse.

The connection between high heels and Morton’s neuroma

Wearing high heels puts added stress and pressure on the balls of your feet. Over time, the nerves that lead to the toes can become compressed and develop a neuroma. Because many high heeled shoes also tend to have a narrow footbed, your feet experience the additional strain of having your toes cramped together in your shoes for long periods.

If you wear high heels, you don’t have to give them up entirely, but wearing them every day can increase your risk of a foot injury down the road. If you start feeling pain or think you have Morton’s neuroma, Dr. Moran recommends switching to more comfortable and supportive shoes. 

If you engage in high impact contact exercises and sports like running, tennis, or other activities that require tight footwear, your risk of developing a neuroma or bunion may also increase. 

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuromas are usually treated conservatively. Depending on your situation, Dr. Moran may recommend orthotics, especially if you have flat feet (low arches), which can also increase your risk of certain types of foot problems

Don’t let foot pain slow you down. For more information about Morton’s neuroma and other foot and ankle injuries and conditions, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Moran today! 

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