Any type of foot pain can negatively impact your daily life. If left untreated, that nerve pain can keep you from enjoying sports, recreational activities, travel, and any pursuit that requires using your feet. Although nerve pain in the feet is a common condition, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent your condition from becoming more severe. For those with diabetes, nerve pain can be a sign of peripheral neuropathy, a serious type of nerve damage that causes a lack of sensation in the feet.
What Is Nerve Pain?
Nerve pain in the feet, also known as neuropathy, is a condition where the nerves that carry signals between the feet and the brain become damaged. This damage can cause the nerves to misfire, sending pain signals to the brain even when there is no injury or other reason for pain.
Symptoms of Nerve Pain in the Feet
- Burning or aching pain
- Pain in the legs as well as the feet
Causes of Nerve Pain in the Feet
Trauma and overuse can cause nerve pain in the feet. However, there are many different factors that can cause this pain, including the following:
- Diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves in the feet and lead to peripheral neuropathy and poor circulation, both of which can cause nerve pain.
- Injuries. Injuries to the feet, such as sprains or fractures, can damage nerves and cause pain.
- Infections. Certain infections, such as shingles or fungal infections, can cause nerve damage and lead to neuropathy. In addition, diseases such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can also cause nerve pain in the feet.
- Autoimmune disorders. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus can cause the immune system to attack the nerves, leading to pain and other symptoms.
- Vitamin deficiencies. A lack of certain vitamins, such as B12, can cause nerve damage and lead to neuropathy.
- Exposure to toxins. Exposure to certain toxins, such as heavy metals or chemotherapy drugs, can damage nerves and cause pain.
- Ill-fitting footwear. Ill-fitting footwear that squeezes and rubs on delicate nerves located near the surface of the skin can lead to nerve pain.
- Smoking. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of nerve pain in the feet due to reduced blood flow and decreased oxygen supply to nerves.
Diagnosing and Treating Nerve Pain in the Feet
If you are experiencing nerve pain in your feet, consult a podiatrist as soon as possible. Your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for any visible injuries or other signs of neuropathy. They may also order tests to help diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms, such as blood tests to check for diabetes or autoimmune disorders or imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans.
The treatment of nerve pain in the feet depends on the underlying cause of the neuropathy. In some cases, treating the underlying condition can help relieve the pain and other symptoms. For example, if your neuropathy is caused by diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels can help reduce the damage to your nerves. For some patients, rest and applying ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation related to foot nerve pain. Wearing more comfortable shoes can also ease foot discomfort as well as improve posture and balance.
Other Treatments for Nerve Pain in the Feet
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help relieve mild to moderate pain. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants.
- Topical treatments. Creams or ointments containing capsaicin, a natural pain reliever, can be applied directly to the feet to help relieve pain.
- Nerve-stimulating treatments. Treatments such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or nerve blocks can help block pain signals and relieve neuropathy symptoms.
- Neurogenx. Neurogenx is a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure that uses electromagnetic waves to treat nerve pain in the feet. It works by stimulating the nerve cells at affected sites to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Lifestyle changes. Making changes to your diet and exercise habits can help improve nerve health and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Avoiding smoking is also essential because it can worsen existing nerve damage.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy can help provide relief from nerve pain. Physical therapists may use techniques such as manual manipulation, stretching, and massage to target areas of nerve damage and reduce inflammation.
- Corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroid injections for nerve pain can be used to reduce inflammation in the affected area and provide relief from the associated pain.
- Surgery. For certain patients, surgery may be necessary but only after all other treatment options have been exhausted.
Why You Should Never Ignore Nerve Pain
It is important never to ignore nerve pain. Doing so could lead to long-lasting complications if the pain is left untreated. Seeing a podiatrist is an important step in treating any type of foot condition, including nerve pain. A podiatrist will be able to assess your situation properly to create an effective treatment plan tailored specifically for you. The goals are to help alleviate your symptoms and prevent the pain from getting worse, so you can get back on track quickly with minimal disruption.
Nerve pain in the feet may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can actually be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. If left untreated, neuropathy can lead to complications such as chronic pain, difficulty walking or standing, depression, and even permanent nerve damage.
Contact Our Austin Nerve Pain Podiatrist
If you have nerve pain in your feet, contact our experienced podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists for an evaluation today. We can evaluate your condition and recommend treatment based on your individual needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us online, or call our office at 512-328-8900.