Nerves are the communication network for your body, relaying signals, commands, and sensations between your brain and spinal cord and the various organs, limbs, and other outposts. Not only are they responsible for reporting sensory data (temperature, pressure, pain, etc.), but they also help keep involuntary physiological functions (heartbeat, bladder control, etc.) running efficiently.
However, nerves can be damaged or impaired by a variety of means. One example of this is pinched nerves, also known as nerve entrapment or nerve compression. This occurs when a nerve becomes restricted by direct, physical pressure from an external structure—for example, a collapse in the tarsal or carpal tunnel, broken bone, herniated disc, or scar tissue after an injury.
So what does a pinched nerve in the foot actually feel like?
Because nerves are responsible for communicating a wide range of sensory data to the brain, a pinched nerve might feel very different to one person than another, depending on the extent and location of the damage. The electrochemical signals may be cut off completely, but they may also “misfire,” producing “phantom” pain or sensations that don’t seem to have a logical explanation—a phenomenon known broadly as paresthesia.
The area of effect will depend on where and what nerve has been pinched, although the inside of the ankle, the heel, or even the entire foot are typical. Some of the most common possible symptoms include:
- Tingling (like being on “pins and needles”)
- Burning pain that seems to “radiate” outward
- Pain that feels like an electrical shock
- Dull aches that feel “distant”
- Suddenly feeling very hot or cold
- Muscle weakness
The sensations may worsen under specific conditions, such as moving your feet or leg a certain way, or sitting in a certain position for a length of time.
When you feel a pinched nerve in your feet, it’s important that you get help right away. When the source of pressure or blockage is corrected early, most pinched nerves will gradually return to full function and health. However, an unaddressed pinched nerve may ultimately cause permanent damage.
To make an appointment with a foot and ankle nerve specialist to review your condition and treatment options, please call the Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas at (702) 839-2010.