On hiking with Morton’s neuroma

Tank Green/ September 24, 2023/ Reviews

Photo of a foot in purple and blue toe socks with a rural pond in the background. I’ve gone mad for walking and will need to update my bio from an obsession with microbes and fungi to one with hiking. I am starting to suspect that my carnivore experiment earlier this year slaughtered a colony of fibre loving microbes which were controlling me and making my every act be one of microbial veneration. Sorry bacteria, but at least the residual colonies are getting nice days out.

Anyway, hiking. I love it, but alongside my achilles tendinopathy, I also have Morton’s neuroma which makes walking very painful after a few kilometres. Thankfully my Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boots are helping the achilles element, but they unfortunately do bugger all for the Morton’s neuroma element. The pain I get when the neuroma kicks in starts off with a kind of tingling numbness at the base of the middle three toes, and then very quickly turns into a sensation of burning like HOT FIRE. Sometimes I get a bonus sharp pain like I’ve been stabbed as well. I think it is because the busted kickboxing big toe with its little bunion is pushing the other toes together and causing me to walk more on the outside of my foot.

The joy!

Anyway, hiking: I love it. I’m not going to let some annoying neuroma stop me, so here are a list of the things I have tried to relieve the pain. I lay it before the internet seeker of relief from Morton’s neuroma pain in the hopes that it may be of use.

  1. Definitely get wide toe box shoes. Technically, my Hoka Tor‘s are too narrow, but I have narrow feet already, so it is not as bad as it could be and it’s too late now. Next time I might get these Inov-8 RocFly boots, as they have a wide toe box and look like they’ll be as plush as the Hoka’s. You can get also bunion specific hiking boots, but they are ugly as sin and I judge people with bad shoes, myself included. If anyone wants to get me the Inov-8 as a gift now, I’d be grateful. Thanks in advance.
  2. Take your boot/s off for lunch. Every time you take your shoe off, you reset the pain cycle. So take it/them off for lunch. Plus, it gives your foot a nice little airing.
  3. Silicone toe spreaders are too much. I have tried both the big toe spreader and the full foot toe spreaders and they just seemed to defer the pain down the road a bit, as well as create other pain/s in my foot. I think they are too intense to do long walks in.
  4. Metatarsal pads worked a little bit. I tried these ‘ball of foot cushions‘ at the suggestion of the physio and they worked a little bit. The pain still came but it felt a little less intense.
  5. Toe socks are the hero of the day! My take-home from the previous experiments was that I needed a less intense version of the full foot toe spreaders plus the extra padding from the metatarsal pad, so I decided to try Injinji Ultra Run toe socks and they worked! I bought the ultra runs as they have extra padding around the toes and underfoot, but possibly the Hiker crews would work well too. These are expensive, but they 95% solve the issue, and good socks are as important as good boots when you walk. Also, they’re cool looking and come in fancy colours. ?

So there you have it: my n=1 experiment results tell us that padded toe socks work for relieving Morton’s neuroma pain on long hikes. May you learn from my experience, and stubbornly pursue an activity no matter the cost. Another option would be to get into a different activity, like cycling or kayaking, but my sensible gene doesn’t work like that.

Viva la Injinji toe socks!