Foot Pain Getting on Your Nerves? Dealing With a Morton’s Neuroma

Four years ago, I limped into the office of an orthopedic doctor in Minneapolis. I had been having pain in between my third and fourth toes on the ball of my left foot. In fact, some days it just felt like my foot was one big nerve; the spot would just ignite with pain – and by the day I finally got into the doctor, even when I stopped my walking or running, the pain would persist. After a rather brief chat, the doctor diagnosed me with a Morton’s Neuroma. While he mentioned the possibility of surgery someday, he suggested metatarsal pads to me first. That afternoon I skip-hobbled out of the office. I was still in pain, but at least I had a name for my pain and what I thought was a solution.

morton's neuroma

I put the metatarsal pads in most of my shoes, even my hot heels for nights out, and I went on with my routine. But for several years, the neuroma only flared up on my big hikes and when I went out dancing in cute but impractical shoes. After falling asleep gritting my teeth against the pain, the nerve finally counted enough sheep to fall asleep and I’d wake up feeling fine. Until recently.

Sometime this past spring as I was rocking out four or five HIIT workouts each week, I could feel my foot growing quite cranky. Because my heart was happy with the high intensity sweat fests, I ignored my body and kept on hopping and jumping and pounding my feet into the cement of my terrace. Boy, I’ve gained a good deal of wisdom living abroad these past few years, but it seems I have further lessons to learn. Lefty has a personality all her own, and now she’s holding a grudge as my neuroma feels rather permanently irritated.

This has finally prompted me to do further research about what to do when dealing with that pesky and persistent nerve. Here are my findings: 

In the event of the arrival or flare up of a Morton’s Neuroma, do rest your foot when possible (i.e. stop the HIIT workouts), do wear shoes that do not squeeze the top of your foot or put pressure on the ball of your foot (i.e. step away from the stilettos you bought in Argentina … sigh … and grab your Borns instead), do take anti-inflammatory meds (Curcumin, or turmeric, is a great alternative to ibuprofen) and do soak your foot in hot water with Epsom salt once a day while icing your foot three times a day. (Umm, another one of my issues is Raynaud’s, so I cannot submerge my whole foot in ice lest I stop the circulation completely, but I found that taking a piece of ice and running it over the top of foot where the pain was emanating from was very helpful).

As I was in the midst of a routine of bathing and icing, my aunt, who seems to have the same genetic foot map as me, told me that her chiropractor had worked on her neuroma. In the two years since he dug his fingers into her nerve, she has not had a bad flare-up. You can bet I marched myself right into the chiropractor’s office after hearing this.

I did experience some relief from the work that they did, but my two chiros recommended seeing an acupuncturist as well. Wouldn’t you know I was heading off to China days after my first visit to the chiropractor. Today, I finished my sixth appointment. I am quite happy with the results so far, but more details to come on acupuncture in the next post … stay tuned!

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About Jamie Bacigalupo

Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.