An intermetatarsal neuroma, known as Morton's neuroma, is a section of enlarged nerve tissue that develops between the third and fourth metatarsal foot bones, states the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Prolonged irritation or constriction causes unhealthy thickening of nerve tissue near the ball of the foot.
Morton's neuroma forms when the medial plantar nerve between the toes is squeezed by the surrounding bones, according to Cleveland Clinic. Existing foot conditions, such as fallen or high arches, make individuals more susceptible to the condition, and routinely engaging in stressful physical activity, such as running, can cause injuries that often lead to neuromas. Anyone who frequently wears heels taller than 2 inches, tight-fitting shoes or footwear with pointed toes may be at risk.
The condition often causes stinging or sharp pain around the nerve when an individual is walking or standing still, Cleveland Clinic states. The affected area may become swollen or numb, producing a tingling sensation in the toes or the feeling of walking on a pebble. Morton's neuroma typically causes increasing pain near the ball of the foot when left untreated.
People suffering from Morton's neuroma may gain temporary relief by avoiding physical strain, removing their shoes or massaging the area, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Doctors suggest wearing padding or prescribe special footwear to control mild symptoms, but lasting pain may require cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications or foot surgery.