Q+A: How can I beat Morton's Neuroma?

Our experts answer real-life questions


Posted: 9 September 2000
by David Holland

Q I suffer from what I believe is called ‘Morton’s toe’, where my second toes are longer than my big toes. This causes great pain during and after running. A pair of shoes half a size larger than normal sounded like a good idea, but it has failed to cure the problem – I still get pains in these toes, which always ends in the nail falling off. I’m sure I can’t be alone with this problem – is there a gadget or a special type of shoe that I should be using?

A Morton’s toe, or Morton’s neuroma, is a medical condition associated with numbness or pain in the toes or at the bottom of the foot. What you are describing is simply a normal variation of foot shape which features a long second toe. Ancient Greeks – or was it the Romans? – considered this a mark of beauty, and their statues very often show the second toe being longer than the big toe.

It’s possible that you have hypermobile feet, which flatten excessively when you run. This may be remedied by a simple pair of arch supports, obtainable from any sports shop or chemists. However, even though you’ve already experimented with slightly larger shoes, your first action should be to visit a specialist running shop and ask them to measure your feet while you stand. This is rather obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people wear shoes which are too small. Once you and the shop are happy with the size, choose a shoe which has a high lacing system to stop your foot sliding forward as you run.

If, after changing your footwear, you are still experiencing problems you should see a podiatrist, preferably one with experience of treating runners. In a minority of cases of this type, prescription foot orthoses which support and control the feet are needed to resolve the problem.

David Holland, consulting podiatrist


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