Despite sounding like a rather uncommon and dangerous medical condition, Morton’s neuroma is, in fact, quite a well-known problem affecting millions of people regularly. It is a condition that affects the third space between the toes and is also known as interdigital neuroma. Unfortunately, the common symptoms of this painful condition can lead to a plethora of differential diagnosis where people will diagnose other conditions. This can be disadvantageous as it influences how the issue is treated and whether it is treated effectively. This article will provide information on the various conditions most often diagnosed in place of Morton’s neuroma.
1. Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is one of the most commonplace medical problems mistaken for neuroma. Fractures are breaks in bones, but small cracks and the stress fracture can develop due to overuse or a weakening of the bone from osteoporosis or similar bone conditions. The symptoms of a stress fracture include pain, swelling and tenderness on a specific area until the fracture is treated appropriately.
2. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition stemming from the abnormal pressure placed on nerves in the foot. Typically, the symptoms are minimal and begin in the sole of the foot as a tingling or mild burning sensation. As one continues to engage in activities, the pain will worsen and this is particularly over the toe area. Morton’s neuroma is commonly misdiagnosed as tarsal tunnel syndrome due to the great similarity in the pain and tingling within the toe section; however, there is not enlargement of the nerve.
3. Peripheral Neuropathy
As with the neuroma condition, peripheral neuropathy is caused by nerve problems. As part of this particular condition, the pain experienced will be defined as a burning or tingling sensation; however, far more intense than that seen in tarsal tunnel syndrome. The pain is also known to spread to the ankles and legs as part of peripheral neuropathy which is typically due to an extreme sensitivity to touch and muscle weakness. This is arguably one of the more dangerous conditions and a doctor should be consulted if the muscles begin to feel weak.
Bursitis is a highly common condition resulting in foot pain and is easily mistaken for neuroma. This type of condition occurs as an inflammation of the bursal sac – a sac containing fluid to lubricate and reduce friction between the toes. Once this sac as been infected, the tops of the inner and tops of the toes will present with redness, tenderness and increased swelling. In many cases, the pain can be relieved by removing restriction on the foot such as shoes.
A ganglion is a particular medical item that causes difficulties for the individual similar to that of neuroma. The ganglion presents in the shape of a balloon rising underneath the skin, also known as a cyst. While the cyst is typically seen on the wrist area, it is also known to appear around the foot and toe area. Of course, the major contrast to neuroma is that this type of cyst has a noticeable lump whereas neuroma is pain cause by pushing on the nerve.