From your lower spine, a number of spinal nerves flow down your legs and terminate in your feet. Foot pain can arise when the nerve roots (portion of the nerve as it exits the spine) of these spinal nerves are inflamed or compressed. Foot pain can also develop if a nerve in your hip, knee, or in your foot is crushed.
Foot pain as a result of a spinal condition
Sciatica pain can travel down your leg and into your foot if nerve roots are irritated or compressed in the lumbar or sacral spine (lower back). Compression of the S1 nerve root, often known as typical sciatica, can cause discomfort on the outside of your foot.
A variety of factors can cause nerve roots to be crushed or inflamed. Three common instances are:
- Lumbar herniated disc: The inner contents of an intervertebral disc leak.
- Degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine: Age-related alterations that cause disc narrowing and shrinkage
- Spondylolisthesis: A vertebra slipping over the one below it
- Lumbar spinal stenosis is defined as a narrowing of the bone apertures for spinal nerves and/or the spinal cord.
Foot drop is a condition that causes an inability to elevate the front part of your foot or frequent tripping when walking. The L5 nerve root is usually compressed, which causes this disease. Foot drop can also be caused by compression of the L4 and/or S1 nerve roots.
Foot pain caused by nerve compression in the hip, knee, or leg
Foot pain can also develop when nerves in the hip, knee, or leg are crushed or injured. As an example:
- Peroneal neuropathy, a disorder in which the peroneal nerve around the knee is pinched or damaged, can cause foot pain and foot drop when you try to move your foot.
- Sciatic neuropathy, or injury to the sciatic nerve in the pelvic region (hip), can cause foot discomfort and weakness along the top of your foot.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome, also known as tibial nerve dysfunction within the tarsal tunnel of the inner ankle, can cause a severe, shooting pain in your ankle and along the sole of your foot.
- Sural nerve entrapment can occur in the leg or around the ankle, causing shooting pain along the outside of your ankle and/or foot.
A corn may also form on the skin around your toes. Corns form over time as a result of friction and can compress surrounding nerves, producing pain and other symptoms. Morton’s neuroma, a thickening of the tissue around a nerve in the foot, is another probable reason of nerve discomfort in your foot.
How to Determine the Cause of Your Foot Pain
With so many potential reasons of nerve pain in the foot, determining the actual underlying cause can be challenging. Here are a few helpful indicators to assist you determine the source of your foot pain:
- Foot pain following a recent trauma to the lower back, hip, knee, or ankle may assist identify the location of nerve injury.
- Foot discomfort caused by nerve root compression or sciatica may be accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, numbness, and/or weakness in the buttock, thigh, and leg; and usually affects just one leg at a time.
- Foot pain caused by tight boots or shoes could indicate peroneal or sural nerve compression at the knee or ankle.
- Foot discomfort that arises after a hip injection or surgery could be an indication of sciatic neuropathy.
Nerve discomfort in the foot can also be caused by nerve damage caused by systemic illnesses like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
Twisting, twisting, or a direct strike to your ankle and/or foot may cause foot discomfort by injuring the foot bones, ankle joint, blood vessels, muscles, and/or tendons.