Pinched nerves, also known as nerve compression or entrapment, are a lot more common than you’d think in feet and ankles. Nerves have to travel through tight spaces (such as the tarsal tunnel) in order to reach the toes, so it doesn’t take much for them to get pinched—inflammatory conditions, repetitive motions, injuries, masses like cysts or varicose veins, even poor biomechanics from flat feet or overpronation.
Unfortunately, for physicians not schooled in nerve conditions of the feet and ankles, nerve entrapment can be especially tricky to diagnose. One problem is that symptoms may be very similar to other common foot pain conditions, especially plantar fasciitis. Another is that the patient may be suffering from both plantar fasciitis (or a related condition) and a pinched nerve, and once the former is correctly diagnosed the latter is missed.
With a nerve entrapment, you’re relatively more likely to experience symptoms that feel like tingling, burning, or even an electric shock. The center of pain is typically around the inside of the ankle or bottom of the heel, but it can radiate in both directions—down into the toes, or up into the calf. Depending on which nerve is pinched (and where), a clinical evaluation might reveal other subtle signs of entrapment—tenderness in the arch, pain when certain locations or structures are pressed, etc.
Nerve care is one of the core specialties at Fixing Feet Institute. Once we’ve made a full examination (potentially using additional diagnostic equipment or testing) and confirmed an entrapped nerve, we’ll help you sort through the treatment options. Conservative care, including custom orthotics and physical therapy, is helpful in many cases. In other scenarios, surgery may be required. As members of the Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons, our specialists are among the very few in the nation who are qualified and certified to perform nerve decompression surgeries successfully.
If you believe your foot pain might be related to nerve pinching, or you simply need help with any kind of foot pain and home treatment hasn’t worked, please call the Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, AZ today. You can reach us at (623) 584-5556.