Shockwave Therapy Effective for Morton’s Neuroma

Neuroma ImageA Morton’s neuroma is an inflamed nerve in the ball of the foot. The inflamed nerve causes pain which shoots out to the 3rd and 4th toes. Tingling, burning or numbness may accompany the pain and some feel as if they are walking on a lump, a bunched up sock or a lamp cord. The pain is generally worse with standing or walking and there may be a “twang” sensation in the ball of the foot.

Conservative therapies for neuromas include neuroma pads, rigid-rocker type shoes with a wide toebox, anti-inflammatory medications, icing, contrasting between hot and cold, steroid injections and nerve sclerosing injections. When conservative therapy fails, the neuroma is excised. The success rate for neuroma surgery has been reported at 85%. Complications specifically associated with neuroma surgery include stump neuroma, neuritis and continued pain. All patients will experience numbness in the bottom of the 3rd and 4th toes after the surgery.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association found extracorporeal shockwave therapy to an effective treatment for Morton’s neuroma. The researchers recruited twenty five patients with a Morton’s neuroma which was unresponsive to at least eight months of conservative therapy. The patients were randomly divided into two groups, an active treatment group and a sham treatment group. Both groups were given intravenous sedation and a local injection. The active treatment group received extracorporeal shockwave therapy with an OssaTron device while the sham group did not receive any treatment. After 12 weeks of follow-up, 69% of the active group had a significant improvement in symptoms, compared with 40% of the sham group. Eight percent of the treatment group had no improvement of symptoms, while 30% of the sham group had no improvement of symptoms.

Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy is the delivery of high-energy sounds waves to an affected area of the body. The high energy sound waves caused microscopic damage to the area and this triggers a healing response by the body, initiating new blood vessel formation and delivery of healing factors to the injured site.  Potential complications associated with extracorporeal shockwave therapy include bruising of the skin, swelling, pain, numbness, tingling and hemorrhage, but the incidence is less than 1%. Four of the patients in this study in the active treatment group went on to surgical excision of the neuroma. The pathology report revealed “traumatic neuroma” in 50% of those cases. Further research is needed to evaluate the amount and extent of nerve damage that may be caused by extracorporeal shockwave therapy.

The limitations of this study are the small patient population and the quantification of pain and symptoms. Although the results of this study show the potential for extracorporeal shockwave therapy to be a safe and effective alternative to surgery for Morton’s neuroma, some critics of the study question the validity of the author’s conclusions. More on neuromas.

Fridman R, Cain JD, Weil L. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy for Interdigital Neuroma. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial. JAPMA Vol 99, No 3, May/June 2009.


9 Responses to “Shockwave Therapy Effective for Morton’s Neuroma”

  1. on 24 Jun 2009 at 8:42 am A. K. Freund

    In researching my symptoms extensively I believe that this is as close to my issue as I have come. My symptoms generally start or are exacerbated by standing for periods of time (anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so) followed by inactivity. I first noticed mild pain in standard dress shoes several years ago. The condition was worsened while I was in a combat zone standing in a gun hatch with my weight pushed forward to the balls of my feet while on long convoys. I have been to several military doctors but all appear to be stumped by what I describe.
    Furthering the problem in an accurate diagnosis is the lack of consistency in symptoms to appear. I assume that there are diet oriented complicators that may increase the symptoms. Not knowing what they are is frustrating. There are weeks that may go by with little or no discomfort. I wear combat boots daily. Some days I have to take off one or both boots for about an hour to relieve an onset of symptoms. Other times there is no pain for days. When I am at home I wear arch supported flip-flops that keep me symptom free. Walking shoes, boots, dress shoes and anything with an enclosed toe seems to allow the symptoms to appear.
    Is there any test that I can ask my doctor to perform that would confirm a diagnosis?

  2. on 19 Jul 2009 at 9:45 am Peter Bird

    This funny. That article in JAPMA was analysed wrong by the authors and they actually showed that shockwave therapy was not effective for mortons neuroma (despite what they claimed). There will be several letters to the editor in an upcoming issue of the journal.

    See this:

  3. on 22 Oct 2009 at 8:58 pm Design Guy

    google “Prolotherapy”

    the best guy is in Chicago named Dr. Hauser but proltherapy doctors are in every state

    They fixed my knee, wrist, neck, and now fixing my neuroma slowly after a horrific bicycle crash

  4. on 08 Mar 2010 at 6:36 pm edie

    I had surgery over 1 year ago, and my foot is as bad as before. I feel like I have a golf ball under my foot. My 2nd and 3rd toe from my little toe go numb and tingle. My 3rd toe is seperating from my 2nd and big toe. what can I do? I am seeing a foot doctor.

  5. on 30 Apr 2010 at 10:50 am Zee Mathews

    I heard that any kind of ultrasonic treatment is bad for health and has several side effects. Is it true what I heard?


    Zee Mathews
    The Salon Mangers Academy

  6. on 25 Dec 2010 at 9:08 pm jim

    For neuroma issues and nerve problems in the foot check with the Dellon Institute in Baltimore. Hope they can help you

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    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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