Morton’s Neuroma vs. Morton’s Toe

Mar 7th, 2011 by John Almodovar | 3 Comments So Far

So here’s a riddle: What do you get when two surgeons who share the same name – Morton, are responsible for identifying two different foot conditions that affect the metatarsal bones of the foot?  The answer: Morton’s neuroma and Morton’s toe.  Are you confused yet?  If so, don’t worry because you’re not alone.  Although both foot conditions occur relatively in the same area of the foot, they couldn’t be more different.

Quick Explanation
Morton’s neuroma is a nerve impingement while Morton’s toe can cause a balance issue – both can lead to foot pain.  Are you still confused?

Morton’s Neuroma Detailed Explanation

Morton's neuroma diagram.Morton’s neuroma is a foot condition that typically occurs between the toes, primarily amid the third and fourth toe.  It’s the thickening of nerve tissue between the toes that causes pain when walking.  Other symptoms include burning stingy sensations or lack of feeling between the toes, swelling between the toes, or pain in the ball of foot area.  Morton’s neuroma is more prevalent in women and is described at times as having the feeling of a small rock in the shoe.

  • Causes are unknown, but according to foot health professionals the following could lead to Morton’s neuroma: Flat feet, bunions and hammertoes, high arches, wearing tight shoes and/or high heels, and irregular positioning of the toes in footwear.
  • Symptoms include tingling between the third and fourth toe, increased pain when weight is placed on the area, burning sensations in the ball of foot area or between the toes, and increased pain over time.
  • Treatment should be prescribed by your foot health professional, which could include wearing shoe orthotics with arch support, adding a metatarsal pad to minimize stress in the ball of foot, changing footwear to shoes that have a wide toe box design to allow extra room, corticosteroid injections, or surgery (neurectomy) to remove the nerve tissue that is affected.

Morton’s Toe Detailed Explanation

Morton’s toe is described as having a shortened big toe (hallux) in relation to the second toe.  So if you were to look down at your feet and noticed that your second toe is relatively longer than your big toe, there’s a good chance you have this foot condition.  Some may call this a disorder, but for the most part, it’s really just another foot shape that at times can hardly be noticed.

  • Causes of Morton’s toe is hereditary.
  • Symptoms include a longer second toe in relation to the big toe, the development of calluses beyond the second toe, excessive pronation during the gait cycle since a shortened toe can have the equivalent outcome as a shortened leg, which could also cause balance issues and joint and muscle pain in lower limbs.
  • Treatment should be prescribed by your foot health professional, which could include wearing shoes with wide toe boxes, putting orthotics in your shoes with arch support to minimize excessive pronation, and putting metatarsal pads in your shoes to reduce stress and pain in the metatarsal (ball of foot) area.

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3 Comments on “Morton’s Neuroma vs. Morton’s Toe”

  1. Sarah said:

    My personal experience is that metatarsal pads actually make the pain from Morton’s Toe worse.

    Morton’s Toe is characterized by the second metatarsal head coming into contract with the ground first over a long period of time and a metatarsal pad does nothing to alleviate this but only make it worse. A pad under the first metatarsal head (the big toe) encourages the proper mechanic of the foot of the first metatarsal taking the weight first (after the heel) and transferring it to the rest of the foot.

  2. Brian said:

    I’m a former pedorothist and also have morton’s toe. Putting met pads under any part of the foot is vey painful and bad. I learned by trial and error on my own feet and others swear by what I did. All you need to do is put a little extra padding directly under the first big toe joint. I found that a 3mm increase in height worked best. This slight elevation acted as a wedge raising the bone and balancing the forefoot. For me a very thin met pad was added to the center for my comfort. This is something you can talk with your doctor about. I simple snip with sissors to an old insole about the size of a quater is all that is needed. I glued a peice that small under the insole of new shoes. Just make sure you fit your shoes by arch lenght and not by toe length. The shortened big toe gives a bad size reading on some scales. Add a half size length to what ever shoe you buy to compansate for the short toe.

  3. joan said:

    I have both conditions, but my foot Dr. only treated the neuroma with injection which helped a bit and orthotics, which did really nothing for the Morton’s Toe condition.
    He didnt diagnose the Morton’s Toe at all. When my continual foot pain persisted he suggested injecting the neuroma nerve with alcohol to kill it (?!)
    i am experimenting with homemade pads under the 1st metatursal with some success as the above commenter posted. Thanks for this information.