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What Causes Nerve Pain In The Foot?

Individuals that experience nerve pain in the foot could be caused by a number of different conditions, can recognizing the most common causes help in developing an effective treatment plan?

What Causes Nerve Pain In The Foot?

Nerve Pain In The Foot

These sensations can feel like a burning, shooting, electrical, or stabbing pain and can happen while in motion or at rest. It can occur on the top of the foot or through the arch. The area closest to the nerve may be sensitive to the touch. A number of different conditions can cause nerve pain in the foot, including:

  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Pinched nerve
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Herniated disc

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma involves the nerve that runs between the third and fourth toes, but can sometimes occur between the second and third toes becoming thicker. Typical symptoms include a burning or shooting pain in the area, usually while walking. (Nikolaos Gougoulias, et al., 2019) Another common symptom is the sensation of pressure beneath the toes like the sock is bunched up underneath. Treatments can include:

  • Arch supports
  • Cortisone injections to decrease swelling
  • Footwear modifications – can include lifts, orthotics combined with metatarsal pads, and rocker soles, to provide cushion where needed.

Things that increase the risk of developing the condition include:

  • Regularly wearing high-heels – the condition occurs more frequently in women.
  • Shoes that are too tight.
  • Participating in high-impact sports like running.
  • Having flat feet, high arches, bunions, or hammertoes.

Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can feel like shooting or burning pain. Nerve entrapment can occur in various regions of the foot or the area on top of the foot may feel sensitive. Causes can be caused by: (Basavaraj Chari, Eugene McNally. 2018)

  • Trauma that causes swelling.
  • Blunt impact.
  • Tight shoes.

Treatment can include:

  • Massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest
  • Footwear modifications
  • Anti-inflammatories.

Things that increase the risk of developing a pinched nerve in the foot include:

  • Poor-fitting footwear.
  • Repetitive stress injury.
  • Trauma to the foot.
  • Obesity.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Another type of nerve entrapment is tarsal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is “anything that produces compression on the posterior tibial nerve.” (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. 2019) The tibial nerve is located near the heel. Symptoms include numbness and foot cramps, burning, tingling, or shooting sensations that often radiate from the instep/arch. Both can worsen while the foot is at rest, like when sitting or sleeping. Treatment can consist of:

  • Placing padding in the shoe where the foot is being compressed to relieve the pain.
  • Custom foot orthotics.
  • Cortisone shots or other anti-inflammatory treatments.
  • Surgery may be necessary to release the nerve.

Conditions that compress the tibial nerve and can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Flat feet
  • Fallen arches
  • Ankle sprain
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Varicose veins
  • Bone spurs

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Long-term high blood sugar/glucose associated with diabetes can lead to a form of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022) Neuropathy pain feels like burning or shooting pain, or the sensation of walking on bubble wrap that usually shows up overnight. The pain can come and go as well as a gradual loss of feeling in the feet that begins in the toes and moves up the foot. It’s estimated that around half of individuals with diabetes will eventually develop neuropathy. (Eva L. Feldman, et al., 2019) Treatments can include:

  • Physical therapy massage to increase circulation.
  • Topical treatments with capsaicin.
  • Vitamin B.
  • Blood sugar management.
  • Alpha lipoic acid.
  • Medication.

Individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of developing peripheral neuropathy if:

  • Blood sugar is not well-controlled.
  • Diabetes has been present for many years.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Smoke.
  • Overweight or obese.

Herniated Disc

Nerve pain in the foot can be caused by spinal issues. A herniated disc in the lower back can irritate and compress the nerves, causing pain that radiates down the leg and foot. Additional symptoms usually include muscle weakness in the legs and/or numbness and tingling. Most herniated discs don’t require surgery and get better with conservative treatment. (Wai Weng Yoon, Jonathan Koch. 2021) If symptoms don’t improve or worsen, a healthcare provider may recommend surgery. Herniated discs are most common in young and middle-aged adults. Increased chances of developing a herniated disc can come from:

  • Degenerative changes in the spine from normal age wear and tear.
  • Physically demanding job.
  • Lifting incorrectly.
  • Overweight or obese.
  • Genetic predisposition – family history of herniated discs.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spine begin to narrow, creating pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. It is usually caused by wear and tear on the spine as the body ages. Stenosis in the lower back can cause burning pain in the buttocks and leg. As it progresses pain can radiate into the feet along with numbness and tingling. Conservative treatment consists of physical therapy exercises and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications/NSAIDs. (Jon Lurie, Christy Tomkins-Lane. 2016) Cortisone injections can be beneficial and if the condition worsens, surgery may be an option. Risk factors include:

  • Age 50 or older.
  • A narrow spinal canal.
  • Previous injury.
  • Previous spinal surgery.
  • Osteoarthritis that is affecting the back.

Other Possible Causes

Other conditions can result in nerve damage and pain symptoms and sensations. Examples include: (Nathan P. Staff, Anthony J. Windebank. 2014)

  • Vitamin deficiencies (Nathan P. Staff, Anthony J. Windebank. 2014)
  • Physical trauma – after surgery or an automobile or sports accident.
  • Certain cancer, antiviral medications, or antibiotics.
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Tumors that irritate and/or compress a nerve.
  • Liver or kidney disease.
  • Infectious diseases – Lyme disease complications or viral infections.

Nerve pain in the foot is definitely a reason to see a healthcare provider. Early diagnosis can help prevent symptom progression and future problems. Once the cause of the pain has been identified, the healthcare team can work together to develop a personalized treatment plan to release compressed nerves and restore mobility and function. See a healthcare provider right away if the pain and symptoms worsen, or if there are difficulties standing or walking.


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References

Gougoulias, N., Lampridis, V., & Sakellariou, A. (2019). Morton’s interdigital neuroma: instructional review. EFORT open reviews, 4(1), 14–24. doi.org/10.1302/2058-5241.4.180025

Chari, B., & McNally, E. (2018). Nerve Entrapment in Ankle and Foot: Ultrasound Imaging. Seminars in musculoskeletal radiology, 22(3), 354–363. doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1648252

American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and nerve damage.

Feldman, E. L., Callaghan, B. C., Pop-Busui, R., Zochodne, D. W., Wright, D. E., Bennett, D. L., Bril, V., Russell, J. W., & Viswanathan, V. (2019). Diabetic neuropathy. Nature reviews. Disease primers, 5(1), 42. doi.org/10.1038/s41572-019-0097-9

Yoon, W. W., & Koch, J. (2021). Herniated discs: when is surgery necessary?. EFORT open reviews, 6(6), 526–530. doi.org/10.1302/2058-5241.6.210020

Lurie, J., & Tomkins-Lane, C. (2016). Management of lumbar spinal stenosis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 352, h6234. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6234

Staff, N. P., & Windebank, A. J. (2014). Peripheral neuropathy due to vitamin deficiency, toxins, and medications. Continuum (Minneapolis, Minn.), 20(5 Peripheral Nervous System Disorders), 1293–1306. doi.org/10.1212/01.CON.0000455880.06675.5a

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "What Causes Nerve Pain In The Foot?" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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Disclaimer *

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

phone: 915-850-0900

Licensed in Texas & New Mexico *

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM, IFMCP, ATN, CCST
My Digital Business Card

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "How The MET Technique Is Used For Gait Analysis" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card