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Mortons Neuroma - Revised information and natural pain relief.

Updated on September 3, 2016
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Diagram of the area affected
Diagram of the area affected
Simple first device to spread the toes and relieve the pressure on the nerve
Simple first device to spread the toes and relieve the pressure on the nerve

Mortons Neuroma Treatment

Morton’s Neuroma Treatment

This condition is very difficult to treat with conventional medicine and can cause great distress. It is caused by a thickening of the nerve tissue, mostly between the 3rd and 4th toes.

This condition was first correctly described by a chiropodist named Durlacher and although it is labelled a "neuroma", many sources do not consider it a true tumour, but rather a perineural fibroma (fibrous tissue formation around nerve tissue).

Orthotics and corticosteroid injections are widely used as conventional treatment for Morton’s neuroma. In addition a pad may be used to splay the metatarsal bones and create more space for the nerve thus relieving pressure and irritation. This may be found to be mildly uncomfortable giving a sensation such as having a foreign object under the foot. Corticosteroid injections can relieve inflammation in some patients and help to end the symptoms. However, the inflammation and pain can recur after some weeks or months, and corticosteroids can only be used a limited number of times because they can cause progressive degeneration of the ligaments.

In place of corticosteroid injections, sclerosing alcohol injections are an increasingly available treatment. Dilute alcohol (4%) is injected directly into the area of the neuroma, causing toxicity to the fibrous nerve tissue. It is a treatment that must be performed probably 2-7 times, with 1–3 weeks between interventions. An 80-90% success rate has been achieved in clinical studies, which is equal to or exceeding the success rate for surgical neurectomy but with fewer risks and less recovery time.

Morton's neuroma lesions have been discovered using MRI scans in patients who show no symptoms.

Negative signs can include no obvious deformities, erythema, signs of inflammation, or limitation of movement. Putting direct pressure between the metatarsal heads will replicate the symptoms, as will compression of the forefoot between the finger and thumb which will compress the transverse arch of the foot. This is referred to as Mulder’s Sign.

There may be other causes of pain in the forefoot most of which is categorized as neuroma. It could be capsulitis, which is an inflammation of ligaments that surrounds two bones, at the level of the joint. Here it would be the ligaments that attach the phalanx (bone of the toe) to the metatarsal bone. Inflammation from this condition will put pressure on an otherwise healthy nerve and give neuroma-type symptoms.

Additionally, an intermetatarsal bursitis between the third and fourth metatarsal bones will also give neuroma-type symptoms because it too puts pressure on the nerve. Freiberg's disease, which is an osteochondritis of the metatarsal head, causes pain on weight bearing or compression.

If such other treatments fail, patients are commonly offered surgery known as neurectomy, which involves removing the affected piece of nerve tissue. Postoperative scar tissue formation (known as stump neuroma) can occur in approximately 20% of cases, causing a return of neuroma symptoms. However, neurectomy requires a greater post-operative recovery time as the patient must avoid weight bearing on the affected foot because the ventral aspect of the foot is weakened and impacted by pressure when standing. It also has an increased risk that scar tissue will form in a location that causes on-going pain.

Cryogenic neuroablation is a lesser known alternative to neurectomy surgery which is also known as cryo injection therapy or cryosurgery and is a term that is used to describe the destruction of nerves to prevent them from carrying painful impulses. This is accomplished by making a small incision (~3mm) and inserting a cryoneedle that applies extremely low temperatures of between −50C to −70C to the nerve/neuroma. This results in degeneration of the intracellular elements, nerves, and myelin sheath (which houses the neuroma) with wallerian degeneration. The epineurium and perineurium remain intact, thus preventing the formation of stump neuroma. An initial study showed that cryo neuroablation is initially equal in effectiveness to surgery but does not have the risk of stump neuroma formation. However, the results from this procedure are not considered permanent.

There is a proven treatment using essential oils and sufferers may wish to try the following:

Using a 60ml mixing bottle add 4 drops each

Anti-inflammatory properties:

Pine, Rosemary, Clove, Sweet Thyme, Peppermint, Helichrysum, Lavender, Catnip, Basil, Geranium, Yarrow, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile, Myrrh, Coriander, Eucalyptus (cit), Cypress, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Camphor, Angelica, Vetivert, Celery and Violet (2 drops only)

Painkilling properties:

Black Pepper, Cajuput, Aniseed, Ginger, Sweet Marjoram and Benzoin.

Base Oils:

Macadamia (65%), Evening Primrose (25%), Neem (5%) and Wheatgerm (5%)

The resulting blend should be massaged gently into the foot area and soles of the feet, and allowed to soak into the skin. Do not immediately allow the skin area to be exposed to bright sunlight until after 1 hour.

Take care when walking as the soles of the feet will be slippery.

In the event of an allergic reaction, show the above formulation to a medical practitioner.

All essential oils are flammable, keep away from naked flame until dry.

Some natural ways to heal Morton’s neuroma that is mild to moderate include the following:

Padding: The technique of padding gives support to the metatarsal arch and hence, reduces the pressure on the nerve and the compression while walking. Some experimentation will be required.

Icing: This is one of the effective home remedies that involve soaking the feet in ice water for 10–15 minutes. This will bring a lot of relief to the pain. Do not exceed the time suggested.

Activity modification: Activities that keep putting pressure on the neuroma should be avoided till there is improvement in the condition; otherwise the irritation may be increased.

Shoe Modifications: Wear wide fitting shoes and refrain from wearing shoes with particularly high heels.

Other natural cures include giving your feet regular rest. You should elevate your feet when you rest them and use the services of a podiatrist regularly.


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© 2012 Peter Geekie

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    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      3 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Vicki

      Yes - add essential oils then top off the bottle with carrier oil, shaking well to mix.

      kind regards Peter

    • profile image

      Vicki 

      3 years ago

      How much carrier/base oil? Enough to fill the bottle?

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