Of all the pesky pain conditions you can have, one of the most debilitating are those that affect your feet. After all, you put pressure on your feet constantly and rely on them to carry the weight of nearly everything you do throughout the day.
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One of the most common foot conditions, Morton's neuroma, affects about a third of U.S. adults, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It's an inflammation of a bundle of nerves between the toes, most commonly the third and fourth toe, notes Tim Oldani, DPM, podiatrist at Missouri Foot and Ankle in St. Louis.
"With continued inflammation and entrapment, the nerve tissue can become thickened and enlarged, which can lead to a painful, burning sensation with weight-bearing that is typically felt more on the bottom or ball of the foot," he tells LIVESTRONG.com. "There can also be associated numbness or tingling radiating to the toes."
Unlike some other foot conditions, Morton's neuroma is not hereditary, nor is it related to a specific injury. It's often the result of wearing narrow or ill-fitting shoes, Dr. Oldani says. "Many times, people with neuroma pain will feel relief and decreased pain simply by removing their shoes," he says.
It is true, however, that certain foot types are more prone to Morton's neuroma — namely, people with either congenital flat feet or high arches. Additionally, Dr. Oldani points out that running and walking can lead to repetitive pressure on the ball of the foot that can trigger or worsen neuroma pain.
The good news: Most often, all it takes to relieve the pain and discomfort of Morton's neuroma is a change in shoe. Here, podiatrists reveal the best shoes to buy if you have the condition.
The Best Shoes for Morton's Neuroma
- Best Overall: NAOT Footwear Galaxy Shoe (From $116.21, Amazon)
- Best on a Budget: Women's Malina Comfort Sneaker ($62.30, Macys)
- Best for Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes (From $39, Amazon)
- Best for Running: ASICS Gel-Cumulus 22 Running Shoes (From $70, Amazon)
- Best Hiking Boots: Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot ($165, Salomon.com)
How We Chose
We tapped four podiatrists, who offered product recommendations and broke down what to look for in shoes for Morton's neuroma. We selected these products based on their criteria, including:
- Wide toe box
- Arch support
- Cushioning on the ball of the foot
Why Are Certain Shoes Marketed to Men or Women?
Manufacturers typically market shoes according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. However, the main difference between most men's and women's shoes lies in the shoe width and size. In some cases, men's shoes are built to support greater weights. So people with bigger bodies may want to opt for men's versions, whereas people with smaller bodies may prefer women's versions.
Something else to keep in mind, says Pedram Hendizadeh, DPM, podiatrist and foot surgeon at Advanced Podiatry in the greater New York area: "Women's shoes typically have a heel and put more ground reactive forces on the ball of the foot where the neuromas are more prevalent, while men’s shoes typically are flat and may have a low heel."
1. Best Overall: NAOT Footwear Galaxy Shoe
This shoe brand is highly recommended by podiatrists, other doctors and chiropractors alike to remedy all sorts of bodily ailments, from knee and hip pain to back and foot problems.
People with Morton's neuroma can especially benefit from the shoe's unique anatomical footbed. Made out of natural cork and latex and covered in a soft and soothing layer of suede, this footbed is specifically designed to alleviate some of the pressure points that worsen Morton's neuroma.
The shoe also has an elevated center that reduces pressure on the ball of the foot, notes Dr. Oldani, which provides great shock absorption. Plus, he says, it's a lightweight, comfortable sneaker that can be worn all day.
Buy it: Amazon.com (men’s sizes 7-14); Amazon.com (women’s 4-12); Price: From $116.21
2. Best on a Budget: Women's Malina Comfort Sneaker
This brand has a line of shoes called Posture Plus specifically designed for people with foot deformities and conditions like Morton's neuroma.
The best and most unique aspect of this line is that they have an orthotic device built right into the shoes. According to Louis Aquino, DPM, podiatrist at The Foot Health Center in Maryville, Illinois, a built-in orthotic like this one is the best way to realign the foot properly, which ultimately reduces the pressure on the ball of the foot and helps to resolve and prevent neuromas.
While these sneakers are great for everyday wear, this brand also has more high-fashion styles like booties, heels and sandals.
Buy it: Macys (women’s sizes 6-11, $62.30); BareTraps.com (women's sizes 5.5-11, $69.99)
3. Best for Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes
Specifically designed for walking, this shoe offers maximum support as well as soft cushioning that eases the pressure placed on each foot when you take a stride. "This helps to reduce impact to the ball of the foot, which will directly decrease irritation of the neuroma and will allow you to stay active without irritating it," Dr. Oldani says.
The insoles themselves offer enough support to be worn without orthotics, but some reviewers note that the shoe takes time to wear in if you plan on using your own shoe inserts. This is even the case if you remove the insoles, so it's a good idea to prepare for an adjustment period before you find optimal comfort.
Buy it: Amazon for men’s sizes 8-15 (From $200); Amazon for women’s sizes 5-11.5 (From $39); BrooksRunning.com for men's sizes 7-15 ($130); BrooksRunning.com for women's sizes 5-12 ($130)
4. Best for Running: ASICS Gel-Cumulus Running Shoes
Whether you're an avid or occasional runner or someone looking to start a running regimen, this is a great running shoe to alleviate the discomfort of Morton's neuroma.
Not only is it versatile, but it's ideal for most foot types, Dr. Oldani says. "Specifically for neuromas, this shoe provides extra cushioning from heel to toe, which helps to absorb shock with each stride, thus reducing neuroma irritation," he says. "It also has a wide toe box, which is key when buying a shoe to reduce neuroma pain."
Another perk about this shoe is that it's long-lasting. Reviewers note that, even with everyday use, this shoe is durable and retains its shape throughout its life — a definite plus when it comes to running shoes.
5. Best Hiking Boots: Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot
Najwa Javed, DPM, podiatrist with Silicon Valley Podiatry Group and founder of E'MAR Italy, is a fan of this all-terrain hiking boot, which is not only lightweight but has a built-in forefoot rocker that absorbs shock and rubber soles that keep you sturdy on-the-go.
With a firm and steady grip, this pair of hiking shoes is ready to assist you in any terrain no matter the conditions without halting your full range of motion in any way. No matter the weather the day of your hike, this shoe's waterproof design has you covered, keeping your foot dry and comfortable in any climate.
You can wear orthotics inside this boot, which makes it customizable for people with additional foot conditions.
Buy it: Salomon.com for men's sizes 7-14 ($165); Salomon.com for women's sizes 6-11 ($165)
What to Look for in Shoes for Morton’s Neuroma
Here are a few features to keep in mind when shopping for the best shoes to relieve the symptoms of Morton's neuroma.
1. Slightly Larger Size
While purchasing the right size is key to ensuring a proper fit and preventing any pain or discomfort from worsening, Dr. Javed actually recommends that people with Morton's neuroma get shoes that are a half-size larger than they would normally purchase. This, she explains, can prevent unnecessary pressure from being placed on the nerves of the foot.
2. Wide Toe Box
Width is important when purchasing a pair of shoes if you have Morton's neuroma, as Dr. Hendizadeh notes that it can reduce the pressure that leads to pain. "Less pressure on the foot means less squeezing of the metatarsals (the five long foot bones in the foot) and, therefore, less pressure on the nerves that travel between them," he says. "As metatarsals are squeezed tighter and tighter, the nerves get irritated and form a bundle of nerves that can be irritating."
3. Arch Support
Because people with high-arched foot types are more prone to Morton's neuroma, per Dr. Oldani, having a shoe with arch support can be helpful.
"Arch support reduces the ball-of-foot pressure, especially in the heels, [so] any shoe that can accept or has built-in arch support is best," Dr. Javed says. "Taking the pressure off the metatarsals is one of the easiest ways to reduce pain in the ball of the foot."
People with Morton's neuroma should seek out shoes that provide cushioning under the metatarsal heads (the ball of the foot), Dr. Oldani says, as this will help to reduce pressure when the foot strikes the ground.
"Those with high-arched feet do not absorb shock well, therefore a cushioned shoe, or more neutral shoe is more important than motion control," he says.
What to Know Before You Buy
If you are currently being treated for a Morton's neuroma, or have a history of the condition, shoe choice is not something you should be taking lightly.
To maximize your comfort when wearing your shoes, Dr. Oldani recommends choosing a shoe based on the specific activity you will be using the shoe for as well as factoring in your foot type before buying a shoe.
"There are shoes made specifically for pronators, which tend to favor motion control, and those for supinators, which will offer more shock absorption," he notes.
If you still can't seem to find the right shoe to alleviate your discomfort, he recommends asking your podiatrist for shoe recommendations.