Nearly everyone has dealt with it before. You start to stand up and discover that one foot has fallen asleep. This odd numbness is a common side effect of nerve compression. You have thousands upon thousands of nerves in your body, and they are all very sensitive. Pinching or compressing a peripheral nerve in your lower limbs can lead to discomfort and other issues in your feet or ankles.
Pinched in the Extremities
You have two main groups of nerves: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. All the other nerves that branch off the spinal cord and run through the body are called peripheral. This includes the nervous tissue that runs down your legs and into your lower limbs.
Nerve compression in the lower limbs can happen in multiple places. As your nerves travel into your feet, many of them pass through narrow places—spaces between bones, under ligaments, between muscles, and so on. Being in narrow places makes them more susceptible to being pinched by the surrounding tissues. Swelling, an injury, repetitive motion, or even just sitting the wrong way for too long can trap one of these sensitive nerves. This leads to all sorts of unpleasant side effects.
Getting on Your Nerves
Nerve pain is often fairly easy to recognize. Generally you have pain around where the compression is taking place. Tingling, burning, and shooting pains around the area are common complaints. Sometimes you feel what people describe as a “pins and needles” feeling in the affected limb. You might develop numbness in your lower limbs as well. Depending on where the nerve is trapped, you might also develop weakness in your feet. Worse than that, though, is without nerve decompression releasing the nervous tissue, you can actually develop permanent damage and pain, including neuropathy.
Dr. Robert Parker and our team at Parker Foot & Ankle will need to identify which nerve is compressed, what caused the problem, and where the issue is to be able to treat it. The sooner you begin nerve decompression, the better it is for your foot. Our team will carefully examine your lower limbs and may use a variety of tests to diagnose the problem. Then we’ll move forward with treatments.
Conservative care is always tried first. Stretching and physical therapy to release tightened tissues around the nerve may help. Sometimes changing your shoes so they support your foot better, or using orthotics to alleviate pressure on your lower limbs, also works. We may recommend direct injections of anti-inflammatory medications as well. If you have a mass causing pressure, however, or the problem is not responding to conservative care, you might need nerve decompression surgery to take care of the problem.
You don’t have to live with nerve compression in your legs or feet—and to prevent permanent damage, you really should seek help sooner than later. Dr. Robert Parker is a lower limb nerve specialist. Our team at Parker Foot & Ankle can help you identify and take care of the problem as quickly as possible. Just call (281) 497-2850 or use our website to make an appointment at our Houston, TX, office.