Why Am I Experiencing Nerve Pain in My Feet?

If you’re experiencing pain in one or both of your feet, and think it’s every day wear and tear, it may be smart to talk with your doctor as soon as you experience noticeable discomfort. “The way a person walks has an effect on nerves, but it can also be related to more serious conditions,” Raymond Stolarski MD says.

Nerve Problems and Foot Discomfort

If you’re experiencing nerve associated foot pain, there are two likely conditions that could be the main factor:

If you're diagnosed with diabetes, diabetic neuropathy might be the cause of your foot pain. On the other hand, for those who do not have diabetes, nerve compression could be the root of your pain. To help your doctor determine if the pain is neuropathy-related or compression-related, nerve blocks, which are nerve-numbing substance injections, will be administered. 

“If a patient is experiencing pain in their lower extremity, we will try a nerve block,” explains Dr. Stolarski. “If they experience relief from the nerve block, then they are a good candidate for surgery.” 

If the nerve blocks are of no help, the condition is diabetic neuropathy, and surgery will not relieve the pain. 

Treatment Beyond Nerve Blocks

To further treat the nerve compression, neurolysis is performed. In order to relieve the compression, your doctor will go into the injured area and decompress the nerves, by cutting surrounding tissue, but not the affected nerves. “Once you decompress the nerves, necessary blood flow and oxygen return to the area, and the nerves will heal on their own,” says Dr. Stolarski.

Once feeling returns to the affected area, you can return to normal activity. 

If you do experience nerve pain, it’s important to notify your doctor in a timely manner. “If there’s been an injury, we can replace a segment of nerve but it's time-sensitive,” Dr. Stolarski explains. “Once a patient is experiencing pain beyond two years, there is little we can do to repair the damage.” 

I've Had Pain Longer Than Two Years: What Now?

If you’ve had nerve pain for longer than two years, or suffer from chronic swelling, you might not be a good candidate for surgery due to slow healing, but there are treatment options available. 

Vascular compression socks and vascular compression pumps can both be used  “They are similar to blood pressure cuffs, but you wear them on your legs,” Dr. Stolarski says. "Both leg cuffs inflate and slowly deflate — milking out fluid."

Regardless the cause of your foot pain, it is important to speak with your doctor and determine the best treatment option for you.

*All professionals quoted in this article were affiliated with TriHealth at the time of initial publication.

Tags Diabetes

Last Updated: April 02, 2014