A debilitating condition which could be caused by wearing high heels is on the increase. Catherine Scott speaks to a former sufferer.
It’s a condition that’s becoming increasingly common in middle-aged women and also with runners. However, it can affect anyone from any walk of life. Morton’s neuroma is a painful ailment of the foot which is often linked to wearing high-heeled or tight-fitting shoes or with sports that put pressure on the feet. The pain is often so debilitating that patients are unable to walk more than a few steps and it affects every aspect of daily life.
Sometimes described as feeling akin to walking on a sharp pebble in your shoe and having persistent pain in the ball of your foot, Morton’s neuroma is an injury to the nerve between the toes, which leads to thickening of the nerve and can cause excruciating pain.
That was the case with Elizabeth Lee, of Leeds, who was affected in both feet. Elizabeth, who took early retirement from her role as an account manager in a multi-national company to become a carer for her parents, first started with the problem in her left foot 12 years ago. It worsened and then her right foot was also affected. She had surgery on her right foot last June followed by her left foot in February this year.
“Being tall – almost six foot – I hadn’t worn high heels much, however, I’ve always been extremely active, and I love dancing. The ball of my foot became extremely painful, with a sharp burning sensation that was constant. The pain worsened to the point I could hardly walk. Every step was incredibly painful. I felt desperate.”
Elizabeth’s podiatrist recommended Professor Nick Harris, consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital.
Professor Harris says: “The incidence of Morton’s neuroma in my practice is definitely increasing. Sufferers can take steps to ease the pain with conservative treatments including using specially designed insoles and steroid or alcohol injections, but these treatments aren’t always successful. In such cases, surgery is an option.”
“It was an easy decision to have surgery as I had tried other treatment options such as injections which hadn’t worked,” says Elizabeth, who had the two procedures done on the NHS. She was able to go home the same day as surgery, using crutches and special shoes for the first 10 days. She was back on her feet and able to drive four weeks later and is now pain-free.