Addressing Nerve Pain in the Feet
Foot pain isn’t just uncomfortable – it can be debilitating. It’s one thing if you have a physical injury that you can visibly identify and treat on the spot; nerve pain, however, can be a trickier beast to tame. You’ve likely experienced nerve pain in your feet before without knowing its cause: the pins and needles, the tingling, the numbness, muscle weakness, and the sensation that your foot has fallen asleep underneath you.
Nerve pain in the feet can stem from a number of different causes, depending on the specific nerve affected. Here’s a look at the various sources of nerve pain in the feet, and your best available treatment options.
You may be surprised to learn that lower back conditions are closely linked to leg and foot pain. This is due to the connecting sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in your body. The sciatic nerve runs down the spine and along the back of each leg, serving the primary role of connecting the spinal cord to the muscles in the leg and feet. Any damage to the sciatic nerve, such as in the lower spine, can actually manifest as crippling leg and foot pain, a condition known as sciatica. Pain experienced as a result of sciatica is often described by patients as being incredibly sharp, almost like a burning sensation.
Sciatica is not a condition in and of itself, but rather a symptom: the diagnosis would identify the underlying source of the nerve damage, usually a herniated disc in the spine resulting in compression of the sciatic nerve. Consult a specialist trained in treating conditions of the back and spine, and refer to your podiatrist for physical therapy and exercises you can do to relieve the pain in your feet.
Diabetic patients sometimes suffer nerve damage as an unfortunate result of their condition. This nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, most dramatically impacts the legs and feet. This causes pain and numbness, along with unpleasant sensations spanning pins and needles, tingling or stinging, and even hyper sensitivity in the affected areas.
Nerve damage is serious, and should be brought to the attention of a medical professional immediately. Since this is a tragic side effect of diabetes, the first plan of action is to consult your primary care doctor about how to better manage your diabetic symptoms. Personally monitoring your blood sugar more vigilantly is key, but your doctor may suggest altering your medication or dosage if your condition is deteriorating. From there, consult a skilled podiatrist about potential therapies or treatments to relieve the nerve pain in your feet.
A pinched nerve in the foot, known as Morton’s neuroma, is a benign but painful condition. A neuroma is essentially a thickening of the nerve tissue in the toes, forming a lump-like growth, often found specifically between the third and fourth toes. The main symptom is the sensation of having a pebble lodged beneath the toes, accompanied by cramping, numbness, or tingling. These symptoms are exacerbated by tight and otherwise poor-fitting shoes, most notoriously high heels.
The cause of a neuroma is usually chronic irritation, pressure, or trauma to the nerve. High-heels have been a proven contributor to neuroma growth, along with certain high impact sports such as jogging. Patients with existing foot deformities such as bunions or flat feet are more prone to developing a neuroma.
Your podiatrist will carefully examine your feet for any signs of a growth, and may even perform imaging tests such as an X-ray or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. They will likely suggest custom orthotics to remove the weight and pressure from the nerve. If your condition is more severe, surgery may be required to relieve the pressure or remove the affected nerve entirely.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie
Only a skilled podiatrist can accurately identify the source of your foot pain, and map out the solutions you need. Schedule a consultation with trusted podiatrists Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie at theSuperior Foot & Ankle Care Center for happier, healthier feet today.