High Heels and Morton's Neuroma: Yes, There Is a Connection

If you wear high heels regularly and have noticed pain or pressure in your toes, you may be experiencing symptoms of Morton’s neuroma, which happens when thickened tissue forms around a particular nerve. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that women are up to ten times more likely to be diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma than men. This isn’t surprising, considering that high heels are the most common cause.

If you’re experiencing the effects of Morton’s neuroma, Francine Rhinehart, DPM, and her team can help you undergo a comprehensive gait assessment and create a personalized treatment plan to find relief.

Morton’s neuroma 101

When you have Morton’s neuroma, a noncancerous nerve tissue growth develops, usually between your third and fourth toes on one of your feet. In rare cases, the growth develops on both feet. While the growths aren’t visible from the outside, they can cause quite a bit of discomfort. 

Morton’s neuroma affects people differently, but common potential symptoms include:

High heels and Morton’s neuroma

Even a relatively low, one-inch heel can add an estimated 22% more pressure on your feet compared to flat shoes. The higher the heel, the more pressure you’ll experience. High heels also tend to have narrow footbeds that squeeze your toes together, which can increase pressure and discomfort. For these reasons, high heels can cause and exacerbate Morton’s neuroma symptoms. 

If you have other risk factors associated with Morton’s neuroma -- such as engaging in high-impact sports or activities like rock climbing that require tight shoes or having a foot deformity, such as hammertoes, flatfoot, or high arches -- your risk for the condition and other heel-related problems, such as Plantar fasciitis, are even greater.

What to do about Morton’s neuroma and high heels

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma may involve custom orthotics, steroid injections, decompression surgery, or surgery to remove the nerve causing the pain. Dr. Rhinehart recommends your best option, based on factors such as the severity of your symptoms.

Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes can help minimize pain, too, while preventing additional problems in the future. This is important to note, considering that high heels also contribute to knee pain, osteoarthritis, an increased risk of falls, and broken bones in your feet or ankles. If you don’t feel ready to give up high heels, consider wearing lower heels for shorter amounts of time and switching into supportive flats before walking or driving from place to place. 

To learn more about Morton’s neuroma and your foot care needs, call our office in Dallas, Texas, or book an appointment using our online scheduler.

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