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Nerve Pain

black and white foot with red ankle pain

31 May Nerve Pain

There are many causes of nerve pain in the foot. Some cases are simple, such as a shoe that is too tight impinging on a nerve leading to pain. Other instances are more complex, such as the metabolic effects of diabetes on the nerve leading to pain.

One of the most common forms of nerve pain of the foot is called a neuroma. This is an enlargement of the nerve caused by pressure on the nerve. This pressure is caused by impinging structures including ligaments and sometimes blood vessels. More often, the neuroma is caused by the adjacent metatarsal bones pinching on the nerve during normal walking, standing, and exercise. Common description of symptoms include: numbness and burning in the toes, a feeling that the “sock is wadded up” or “that something is in the foot”, a pain in the ball of the foot. Walking barefoot or exercise may worsen the symptoms.

Treatment involves foot examination and x-rays, followed by anti-inflammatory medication and/or cortisone injections. Custom foot orthotics are also vital in treating a neuroma because they prevent the mechanical forces causing the metatarsal bones to pinch on the nerve. Supportive, cushioned shoes are also helpful.

In some chronic cases denatured alcohol injections are administered to “shrink down” the abnormal nerve. If pain persists, the neuroma can be surgically removed.

Another common form of nerve pain in the foot is called neuropathy. This is most often encountered in patients with diabetes, but can also occur in alcoholics, individuals with poor nutrition, people who have worked a great deal around metals, and in some cases of infectious diseases. In its milder states, neuropathy can just be a numb feeling in the toes – a “pins and needles” feeling. It can progress to the point that this feeling extends up the leg. The condition can also become painful. Some individuals describe a sharp, burning sensation, like walking on nails, particularly when sitting or trying to sleep. This can even wake an individual at night.

Treatment consists of determining the root cause of the neuropathy. This may involve x-rays, blood tests, and special nerve tests to assess nerve function. Further treatment involves addressing the underlying cause, for example, treating and controlling diabetes, and then utilizing medications that can reduce the pain associated with the neuropathy. This will involve a “team approach” with both the medical doctor and podiatrist.

Take the first step toward relieving your foot nerve pain by visiting Alta Ridge Foot Specialists.