By: 17 July 2015
Morton’s neuroma: Healing the effects of high heels

Morton’s neuroma: Healing the effects of high heels

High heels are responsible for more than the pain of Morton’s neuroma

Doctors have issued a warning to women about the dangers of wearing high-heeled shoes following the surge in the number suffering from Morton’s neuroma – a condition that causes severe foot pain.

The number of sufferers of Morton’s neuroma has more than doubled in the past 10 years, with four times as many women as men being admitted to hospital. The condition, also known as interdigital neuroma, impacts the nerve that runs between the toes. Fibrous tissue develops around the nerve, which becomes irritated and compressed, causing agonising pain on the ball of the foot and at the base of the toes.

Simon Moyes, a specialist sports injury orthopaedic surgeon at The Wellington Hospital, blames high heels and ill-fitting shoes for common and painful foot problems, including bunions and plantar fascitis.

“Many women prefer to wear high heels and are reliant on them for everyday use, but repeatedly wearing heeled shoes can lead to Achilles tendonitis,” said Moyes. “The consequence of heeled shoes that women are most aware of is the increased risk of developing bunions and calluses, which are known to be aggravated by high-heeled shoes, as the heel pushes the front of the foot into the shoe, crowding the toes. These bony growths aren’t just unsightly, but can lead to long-term swelling, inflammation and pain.

He continued: “The prolonged wearing of high heels can produce hyperextension of the toes by pressing them into rigid unnatural forms. The more stiletto-shaped the heel, the worse it is likely to be. The base of the big toe becomes deviated outwards forming a bunion, and, the sesamoid bones get dislodged by the enormous pressures in that area. The good news is that as long as it is only temporary use you should not necessarily damage your foot. You are more likely to develop bunions if you have a family history of this and you are genetically predisposed to the condition as the wearing of such heels may accelerate bunion development. The solution is to avoid wearing heels for extended periods of time and use sensible shoes alongside your killer heels.

“Ill-fitting shoes can lead to plantar fasciitis the lack of arch support and lack of cushioning combined with the way you walk in these shoes can predispose you to this condition. A particularly useful stretch for the plantar fascia is either using customised massage balls or you can also use tennis balls or golf balls. These are massaged directly into the painful areas of the plantar fascia and in the heel. These are combined with regular calf stretches to help relieve the symptoms although it will take a few weeks of treatment to resolve matters.

“If you are a member of a gym which has a power plate you can combine usage of this with the aforementioned stretching regimes to have a more affective stretch of the plantar fascia and calf muscles and more acutely relieve symptoms. If the symptoms fail to respond to these simple stretching measures and alteration of footwear and activities then ultrasound guided steroid injections can be administered.”