Is Your Foot Pain Caused by a Pinched Nerve?

by | Jun 13, 2017

When it comes to diagnosing foot pain, sometimes the fundamental problem is more than meets the eye. That’s because a very wide range of conditions can cause similar symptoms. You might assume that an aching heel or lower leg is probably a tendon injury, like plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. However, sometimes the cause is very different, such as a pinched nerve.

In order to make their way from the brain, to the spinal cord, to the furthest reaches of your feet and toes, nerves often need to snake their way through some fairly tight spaces and tunnels. They thread like a needle through gaps in joints and around muscles and bones.

As a result, there are a number of locations and situations where nerves can get “pinched” or compressed by an exterior pressure. The tarsal tunnel, which runs through the ankle joint, is particularly treacherous. (The resulting condition, tarsal tunnel syndrome, can be thought of as the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist.)

Common sources of compression include:

  • Sitting or standing in an awkward position for an extended period of time
  • Repetitive motions, such as squatting, dancing, or certain athletic activities
  • Pressure from a bone spur, tumor, swollen tissue, or other mass
  • Soft tissue inflammation

Depending on the location and degree of the physical pressure, it may be tough to differentiate the pain of a pinched nerve from other forms of foot pain. However, a pinched nerve is also more likely to produce symptoms such as “pins and needles” tingling, temporary numbness, or burning or aching pain that feels like it’s radiating up into the leg or down into the heels, arches, or even toes. You may also notice muscle weakness.

Now, almost everyone has, at one time or another, experienced a foot that “fell asleep,” perhaps after sitting cross-legged on the floor or couch for a while. However, if you notice that symptoms frequently recur or last for several hours or days, it’s extremely important to see a specialist as quickly as you can. While a nerve that has only been pinched for a short time tends to spring back quickly, longer-term compression can cause permanent damage.

To set up your appointment with Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists in Ladera Ranch, CA, please give us a call today at (949) 364-9255.