Your nervous system is a complex, coordinated set of connections responsible for transmitting signals to and from different parts of the body. In essence, they are a communication network linking your brain to every other part of your anatomy.
The nerves in your feet represent the last stop in this network—the most remote outpost, furthest from the brain and heart. They are, for many reasons, among the most vulnerable in your body. Nerves here are small, don’t get as much oxygen and nutrients due to less circulation, and are situated at the foundation of your body.
The Importance of Healthy Nerves
Nerve problems in feet can cause symptoms such as stabbing pain, tingling, “pins and needles,” numbness, and more—and if they aren’t treated, symptoms may become permanent. Worse, because you rely on your nerves to report dangerous situations or injuries to your brain, nerve damage can easily lead to more serious injuries. A cut or break that isn’t discovered in a timely fashion could mean a time-consuming limb salvage operation, or even amputation.
If you’re experiencing pain or unexplainable sensations in your feet and ankles, give Southern California Foot & Ankle a call for prompt attention.
Common Foot & Ankle Nerve Conditions
Some of the most common nerve problems we treat in feet and ankles include:
This is a general term for nerve damage in the feet and ankles. The most common cause is diabetes, since high blood sugar levels are extremely damaging to nerve health. However, neuropathy may also be related to smoking, alcohol abuse, other diseases, certain medications, or other factors. In about five percent of cases, no underlying cause can be identified.
The most common symptoms are sensory. For example, you start with a sensation of tingling, burning, or stabbing pain in the feet even when there’s no obvious injury. However, depending on the types of nerves affected, other symptoms might include muscle weakness, loss of coordination and balance, heat intolerance, digestive or bladder problems, dizziness, and more.
A neuroma is a painful swelling of nerve tissues. The most common type is Morton’s neuroma, which occurs in the nerve in the ball of the foot between the third and fourth toes. Neuromas usually form in response to a direct injury to the nerve, whether caused by surgical error, a traumatic wound, or from pinching from cramped toes. The pain may include burning and tingling, or it may feel like you’re standing on a pebble or bunched-up sock.
Nerves often have to wind their way through narrow spaces and tunnels around bones, through joints, and in many other locations where they might get pinched or trapped. One of the most common nerve compression conditions is tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is similar to the more well-known carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist. Like other nerve conditions, compression could be related to high blood sugar, injury, or surgical errors. It may also result from certain repetitive motions or positions.
Some of the other nerve problems we see include:
- Foot drop. A nerve injury or disorder leads to weakness or outright paralysis in muscles in the front part of the foot, leaving you unable to raise or lift it.
- Spastic equinovarus. After a brain injury or stroke, the foot turns inward and sideways. Although this may or may not be painful, it can make it very difficult to walk.
Prompt Treatment Is a Must
Because nerves aren’t always able to repair themselves as effectively as other types of tissue, it is critical that you seek out treatment for any nerve problems as early as possible. Don’t wait for severe symptoms to force your hand!
The team at Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists provides top quality care options for foot and ankle nerve problems. Depending on your condition and needs, this might include medications, physical therapy, custom orthotics, footwear modifications, manipulation and casting, or surgery to excise a neuroma or release a compressed nerve. Our aim is to relieve your pain and restore as much nerve function as possible, so you can live a healthy active life and reduce your risk of long-term complications. Make an appointment with us in Ladera Ranch, CA by calling (949) 364-9255.