We treat many foot and ankle conditions at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, including some responsible for nerve pain and other issues. If you are already experiencing pain, our medical specialists will carefully evaluate your situation and then create a unique treatment plan to address it. Even better, we have tips and information so you can take the right steps to keep your nerves healthy and reduce the risk of a problem developing in the first place.
The Nervous System and Nerve Issues
Whereas it is often referred to as a single system, the nervous system is actually comprised of two equally important parts: the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems. When we consider nerve pain in the foot and ankle, we are often looking at issues in the peripheral nervous system.
The central nervous system—formed by the brain and spinal column—is responsible for receiving and processing information, which enables us to experience sensations. The information the brain processes is collected and transmitted to the spinal column via peripheral nerves.
When the peripheral nerves are healthy, there is usually no issue. Problems begin, though, when they become damaged or receive abnormal pressure from an external source (like a tumor, for example). At this time, the usually helpful nerves can become a source of pain or phantom symptoms like tingling or burning sensations. In some cases, patients r
eport feeling as though they have a pebble in their sock or shoe, when none is actually present.
There are several conditions that can cause nerve pain and other symptoms. Neuropathy (nerve damage), neuromas (enlarged, thickened nerve tissues), and tarsal tunnel syndrome are some examples of conditions we sometimes need to treat for our patients. There tends to be a fairly strong correlation between neuropathy and diabetes.
Nerve Pain Treatment Options
Treatment will depend, naturally, on the condition responsible for the problem. With that said, some of the more common treatment options include:
- Medication. This approach is mainly used to treat existing pain. Pain relievers, topical treatments, anti-seizure medications, and even antidepressants can all be beneficial in certain cases.
- Orthotic devices. In some cases, keeping pressure off an affected nerve is quite helpful.
- Rest and massage. When the source of pain is a neuroma, rest and a foot massage can provide relief.
- Shoe modifications. Switching footwear choices from pointy-toed high heels to models featuring low heels and plenty of room for toes to move can make a big difference.
- Surgery. Our goal is to use conservative care as often as possible, but sometimes nerve issues need to be addressed with surgical procedures.
Tips for Optimal Nerve Health
The best way to prevent issues from developing is to have healthy, strong nerves. There are several ways to do this, including:
- Eating a balanced diet. You can help your nervous system by eating a diet based on fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains. The nutrients in these foods will protect the nervous system and enable it to function at full capacity.
- Drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is essential for several reasons, and you can add “nerve health” to that list.
- Exercising regularly. As always, make sure to check with us and your primary physician to assess your fitness levels and help you create a safe, effective workout program.
- Managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. Diabetes and neuropathy are closely linked, but keeping on top of the disease can lower the risk.
- Quitting all tobacco usage. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use restrict blood vessels and can deprive your nervous system of essential nutrients.
Professional Care for Nerve Pain in the Lower Limbs
If you or one of your loved ones have a condition causing nerve pain in your foot or ankle, our team at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle can help. Dr. Evan Merrill and Dr. Adam Gerber will start by diagnosing your condition and determining the source of the problem. Once it has been diagnosed, they will create a custom treatment plan to address it for you. If you would like additional information on nerve pain treatment—or any of the many foot and ankle conditions we treat—call (541) 776-3338 to reach our Medford office or contact us online right now.