The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Understanding Foot Pain: What Does Morton’s Neuroma Feel Like?

Posted by on Monday, July 7th, 2014


A nerve with a benign tumor is called a neuroma. The term “Morton’s neuroma” is a bit of a misnomer, since it doesn’t actually refer to a tumor — but rather, inflammation and thickening of the digital nerve that passes beneath the ligament connecting the toe bones in the forefoot. Often, people develop this condition between the third and fourth toes following trauma or excessive pressure. The pain is most significant on the balls of the feet and at the base of the toes. Wendy Desbrow, a nurse in Leicester, England, recently told the Leicester Mercury News precisely what Morton’s Neuroma feels like.

morton's neuroma
Feel like you’re walking on marbles? It could be Morton’s Neuroma.

What Does Morton’s Neuroma Feel Like?

Nurse Wendy said the pain in her left foot has been so excruciating that she has, at times, been unable to drive. One time, she recalls, the foot pain was so severe, she had to pull over. “I just sat by the side of the road in tears,” she says, adding: “It was like someone putting a knife into your foot and twisting it round. All I could do was wait for the pain to go.”

How Does Morton’s Neuroma Begin?

The 60-year-old believes her condition developed when she was building a new deck addition on her home. “My foot was a bit sore and it gradually got worse,” she said. Since the pain only hit her “every now and again,” she didn’t seek treatment right away. People often say it starts as a general aching and tenderness or tingling sensation between the toes. For Nurse Wendy, the pain worsened when she wore flat shoes or spent several hours shopping. Eventually, the pain from this condition can interfere with daily activities — and that’s when most people seek help. The condition progresses until the toes begin to cramp and a sharp, shooting pain strikes the ball of the foot or the base of the toes. Many people say it feels like they are “constantly walking on marbles.”

Do Painkillers Help?

Morton’s Neuroma nerve pain isn’t the sort of problem that can be resolved with Advil — or even prescription medication. “I went to my GP who couldn’t see anything and I was given painkillers which didn’t see me through the pain,” Nurse Wendy said. Her podiatrist suggested insoles, but that didn’t help either. A steroid injection gave her a little reprieve from acute pain. After meeting with a specialist, she knew she would have to undergo an operation to remove the lump of fibrous tissue.

What Does Your Foot Feel Like after Morton’s Neuroma Surgery?

Following her operation at Leicester’s Spire Hospital in May 2014, Nurse Wendy said her foot didn’t hurt at all. “It is still a little swollen,” she says of it a month later, “but it has healed perfectly.” She is back to work, driving, working out at the gym, power-walking, and enjoying life once again. “Not to have that pain is wonderful,” she said. “I get quite tearful thinking about it.”

Need Help with Your Morton’s Neuroma Foot Pain in NYC?

Morton’s Neuroma is one of the conditions we diagnose and treat here at The Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in New York City. Most of our podiatrists will see a patient or two for this common condition each week. We offer everything from surgical correction to late-breaking treatments like cryotherapy and extracorporeal shockwave therapy. For your convenience, we are accepting new patients by phone or through our online booking service.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.