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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Morton Neuroma Treatment & Management

  • Author: Kevin Berry, MD; Chief Editor: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD  more...
 
Updated: Jan 11, 2016
 

Rehabilitation Program

Physical Therapy

Treatment strategies for Morton's neuroma range from conservative to surgical management. The conservative approach to treating Morton's neuroma may benefit from the involvement of a physical therapist. The physical therapist can assist the physician in decisions regarding the modification of footwear, which is the first treatment step. Recommend soft-soled shoes with a wide toe box and low heel (eg, an athletic shoe). High-heeled, narrow, nonpadded shoes should not be worn, because they aggravate the condition.

The next step in conservative management is to alter alignment of the metatarsal heads. One recommended action is to elevate the metatarsal head medial and adjacent to the neuroma, thereby preventing compression and irritation of the digital nerve. A plantar pad is used most often for elevation. Have the patient insert a felt or gel pad into the shoe to achieve the desired elevation of the above metatarsal head.

Other possible physical therapy treatment ideas for patients with Morton's neuroma include cryotherapy, ultrasonography, deep tissue massage, and stretching exercises. Ice is beneficial to decrease the associated inflammation. Phonophoresis also can be used, rather than just ultrasonography, to further decrease pain and inflammation.

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Surgical Intervention

When conservative measures for Morton's neuroma are unsuccessful, surgical excision of the area of fibrosis in the common digital nerve (as demonstrated in the images below) may be curative. Common adverse outcomes include dysesthesias radiating from a painful nerve stump after surgical excision of the Morton's neuroma. Dysesthesias may be treated as any other dysesthetic pain. (See Medication.)[7, 8, 9, 10]

Surgical options include the following:

  • Neurectomy with nerve burial [11, 12, 13]
  • Transverse intermetatarsal ligament release, with or without neurolysis
  • Endoscopic decompression of the transverse metatarsal ligament
  • A dorsal surgical approach may decrease recovery time, [14]  although a study by Kundert et al indicated that a longitudinal plantar approach to excision of Morton neuroma is also effective, providing strong pain relief [15]
    Neurectomy: typical incision location. Neurectomy: typical incision location.
    Neurectomy: superficial exposure. Neurectomy: superficial exposure.
    Neurectomy: deeper dissection. Neurectomy: deeper dissection.
    Neuroma and adherent fibrofatty tissue. Neuroma and adherent fibrofatty tissue.
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Consultations

If surgical intervention is needed for Morton's neuroma, consultation with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery is recommended.

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Other Treatment

Corticosteroid injections

Another treatment approach involves injection of the Morton's neuroma. Perform injection into the dorsal aspect of the foot, 1-2 cm proximal to the webspace, in line with the MTP joints. Advance the needle through the midwebspace into the plantar aspect of the foot until the needle gently tents the skin. Then withdraw it about 1 cm to where the tip of the neuroma is located. Inject a corticosteroid/anesthetic mix. A reasonable volume is 1 mL of corticosteroid and 2 mL of anesthetic. The anesthetic used should not contain epinephrine, as necrosis may result. Care also should be taken not to inject into the plantar pad.[16]

Adverse outcomes include plantar fat pad necrosis. Transient numbness of the toes also may occur. Although many practitioners use multiple injections, the likelihood of benefit from subsequent injections, after failure to achieve relief from the initial injection, is negligible.

An Australian investigation using a single, ultrasonographically guided corticosteroid injection for Morton's neuroma found that 9 months after treatment, complete pain relief had occurred in 11 of the 39 neuronal studied.[17]

Studies indicate that a dorsal approach may decrease patient discomfort.[18]

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy

Fridman et al investigated the efficacy of extracorporeal shockwave therapy in the treatment of Morton's neuroma. The study included 23 patients who, after more than 8 months of conservative therapy, had a visual analog scale (VAS) pain score of at least 4. In the study, 13 patients were treated with shockwave therapy, with the rest receiving a sham treatment. By 12-week posttreatment follow-up, members of the shockwave treatment group showed a significant reduction in their VAS pain score, whereas patients in the sham treatment group did not. The authors concluded that extracorporeal shockwave therapy may be an effective alternative to surgical excision in the treatment of Morton's neuroma.[19]

Radiofrequency ablation

A further nonsurgical option includes thermoneurolysis with percutaneous radiofrequency ablation. This method heats the nerve with radiofrequency to the point of neurolysis and may be as effective as surgical intervention.[20]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Kevin Berry, MD Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician, Rehabilitation Options of Issaquah

Kevin Berry, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, International Spine Intervention Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Richard G Bowman, II, MD Rehabilitation and Electrodiagnostic Director, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Management, The Center for Pain Relief

Richard G Bowman, II, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Peter Gonzalez, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Peter Gonzalez, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehabilitation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Michael T Andary, MD, MS Professor, Residency Program Director, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Michael T Andary, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Medical Association, Association of Academic Physiatrists

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Allergan for speaking and teaching.

Chief Editor

Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD Medical Director, Senior Products, Central North Region, Humana, Inc

Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
  1. Morton TG. Peculiar painful affection of fourth metatarsophalangeal articulation. Am J Med Sci. 1876. 71:37.

  2. Kim JY, Choi JH, Park J, et al. An anatomical study of Morton's interdigital neuroma: the relationship between the occurring site and the deep transverse metatarsal ligament (DTML). Foot Ankle Int. 2007 Sep. 28(9):1007-10. [Medline].

  3. Pastides P, El-Sallakh S, Charalambides C. Morton's neuroma: A clinical versus radiological diagnosis. Foot Ankle Surg. 2012 Mar. 18(1):22-4. [Medline].

  4. O'Connor FG, Wilder RP, Nirschl R. Foot Injuries in the Runner. In:Textbook of Running Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2001. 258-260.

  5. Bignotti B, Signori A, Sormani MP, Molfetta L, Martinoli C, Tagliafico A. Ultrasound versus magnetic resonance imaging for Morton neuroma: systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Radiol. 2015 Aug. 25 (8):2254-62. [Medline].

  6. Zanetti M, Weishaupt D. MR imaging of the forefoot: Morton neuroma and differential diagnoses. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2005 Sep. 9(3):175-86.

  7. Akermark C, Saartok T, Zuber Z. A prospective 2-year follow-up study of plantar incisions in the treatment of primary intermetatarsal neuromas (Morton's neuroma). Foot Ankle Surg. 2008. 14(2):67-73. [Medline].

  8. Monacelli G, Cascioli I, Prezzemolo G, Spagnoli A, Irace S. [Surgical treatment of Morton's neuroma: our experience and literature review]. Clin Ter. 2008 May-Jun. 159(3):165-7. [Medline].

  9. Valente M, Crucil M, Alecci V. Operative treatment of interdigital Morton's neuroma. Chir Organi Mov. 2008 May. 92(1):39-43. [Medline].

  10. Lee KT, Lee YK, Young KW, et al. Results of operative treatment of double Morton's neuroma in the same foot. J Orthop Sci. 2009 Sep. 14(5):574-8. [Medline].

  11. Villas C, Florez B, Alfonso M. Neurectomy versus neurolysis for Morton's neuroma. Foot Ankle Int. 2008 Jun. 29(6):578-80. [Medline].

  12. Title CI, Schon LC. Morton neuroma: primary and secondary neurectomy. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2008 Sep. 16(9):550-7. [Medline].

  13. Pace A, Scammell B, Dhar S. The outcome of Morton's neurectomy in the treatment of metatarsalgia. Int Orthop. 2010 Apr. 34(4):511-5. [Medline].

  14. Faraj AA, Hosur A. The outcome after using two different approaches for excision of Morton's neuroma. Chin Med J (Engl). 2010 Aug. 123(16):2195-8. [Medline].

  15. Kundert HP, Plaass C, Stukenborg-Colsman C, Waizy H. Excision of Morton's Neuroma Using a Longitudinal Plantar Approach: A Midterm Follow-up Study. Foot Ankle Spec. 2015 Aug 7. [Medline].

  16. Rout R, Tedd H, Lloyd R, et al. Morton's neuroma: diagnostic accuracy, effect on treatment time and costs of direct referral to ultrasound by primary care physicians. Qual Prim Care. 2009. 17(4):277-82. [Medline].

  17. Markovic M, Crichton K, Read JW, et al. Effectiveness of ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injection in the treatment of Morton's neuroma. Foot Ankle Int. 2008 May. 29(5):483-7. [Medline].

  18. Yap LP, McNally E. Patient's assessment of discomfort during ultrasound-guided injection of Morton's neuroma: selecting the optimal approach. J Clin Ultrasound. 2012 May 15. [Medline].

  19. Fridman R, Cain JD, Weil L Jr. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy for interdigital neuroma: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2009 May-Jun. 99(3):191-3. [Medline].

  20. Moore JL, Rosen R, Cohen J, Rosen B. Radiofrequency thermoneurolysis for the treatment of Morton's neuroma. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2012 Jan-Feb. 51(1):20-2. [Medline].

  21. Betts LO. Morton's Metatarsalgia. Med J Aust. 1940. 1:514.

  22. Lee MJ, Kim S, Huh YM, Song HT, Lee SA, Lee JW, et al. Morton neuroma: evaluated with ultrasonography and MR imaging. Korean J Radiol. 2007 Mar-Apr. 8(2):148-55. [Medline].

 
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Plantar view showing the relationships between the metatarsal heads, the intermetatarsal ligament, and the neuroma.
Neurectomy: typical incision location.
Neurectomy: superficial exposure.
Neurectomy: deeper dissection.
Neuroma and adherent fibrofatty tissue.
 
 
 
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