The state of your nerves plays an important role in the health of your feet. In fact, there are about 8,000 nerves in your feet so when there’s a problem it can be difficult to treat.
Foot neurology is all about examining the foot and ankle joint for nerve damage, nerve compression or other nerve disorders that might result in pain or restricted movement.
The nerves in your feet (the peripheral nervous system) are linked to the central nervous system and so neurological disorders in one part of the body can affect other parts of the body. This can make diagnosis of neurological disorders challenging.
Common Foot Disorders
Some common neurological foot disorders include:
- Neuromas (Morton’s neuroma)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Sciatica or pinched nerves
Peripheral neuropathy and other nerve problems can not only cause significant pain and movement restriction but they can also affect your balance and lead to falls and accidents.
Uncovering the trigger for peripheral neuropathy can be complex but some of the more common triggers for peripheral neuropathies include:
- Diabetes and Fibromyalgia
- Trauma and poorly fitting footwear
- Genetic diseases (multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis)
- Neurological disorders including Strokes
- Vitamin B complex deficiencies
A nerve injury such as pinched nerves, nerve compression or inflammation of the nerve are typical triggers for many nerve disorders. For example, Tarsal Tunnel is the result of the compression of the posterior tibial nerve and this could be cause by a foot injury, bone growth or poorly fitting footwear.
Patients with diabetes commonly exhibit peripheral neuropathy, which, combined with poor vascular health, can have extremely serious impacts for ongoing foot health.
Other foot nerve problems are relatively straightforward. Morton’s neuroma is a common condition usually caused by wearing too tight shoes or high heels. Finding relief for diseases such as Charcot Marie tooth disease or multiple sclerosis will require a combined approach from a number of specialists.
Nerve damage, if left untreated, can develop into more serious and chronic conditions. Therefore, it’s important to seek a clear diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathies typically start with tingling, pins and needles, nerve pain, and numbness. Often you will notice associated muscle weakness and contraction.
Pain may occur only during activity or sometimes when sleeping or resting. Pain may be localised, a dull ache or sharp shooting pain and nerve pain can spread making it very difficult to locate the source. In some cases the pain is severe while others might complain of only very mild discomfort.
Correct diagnosis by a qualified podiatrist is critical to developing an effective treatment plan.
Effective Neurological Foot Treatments
It’s important to seek help as soon as possible for any peripheral neuropathy disorder. If left untreated nerve damage can become permanent. Your expert podiatrist will use a range of tools to correctly diagnose your peripheral neuropathy condition.
This is the key to developing an effective treatment plan that will bring rapid relief, prevent further nerve damage and bring about a lasting healing solution.
Prevention, especially in the case of diabetic patients is absolutely vital. With diabetic patients, peripheral neuropathy treatment will revolve around regular testing for nerve health and blood circulation, biomechanical assessment for risks, wound management, footwear advice and customisation, and the use of shockwave therapy.
Treatment for pinched nerves will vary according to the seriousness, position of compression and the cause. Steroid injections, Dry Needling and Shockwave treatments are all highly effective options. Custom-made orthotics and improved footwear may be all that’s necessary in more mild cases of nerve entrapment or tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Patients with neuromas, such as Morton’s Neuroma, might find lasting relief with a some dense foam pads placed in the foot wear to relief pressure on the nerve. In more severe case, steroids, padding and an exercise programme to strengthen weak muscles might be needed.
In most cases of peripheral neuropathy, your podiatrist can design a well balanced stretching and strengthening programme that will deliver very effective long-term results.
Surgery may be required for severe bone growths that trigger peripheral neuropathy and naturally, you should always rule out deeper medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or osteoarthritis that might be causing your nerve pain.
Take advantage of Erica Dash Podiatry’s vast pool of experience and innovative tools and find lasting relief for all your foot aches and pains.
Shockwave is a great alternative to treatments such as dry needling if you’re needle phobic and not keen on dry needling. We also have effective treatment offers for kids.