Nerve Compression Syndrome of the Foot

Our professional use of shockwave therapy provides an extremely effective and efficient alternative, non-surgical solution for nerve compression syndromes in the foot. High energy shockwaves easily break apart the disorganized connective tissue fibres responsible for compressing the nerve

Nerve compression is a condition where one or more of the tiny nerves, located throughout the ankle and foot, are being squeezed. The condition can be extremely painful when load-bearing (walking) and can even persist while sitting or sleeping.

Morton's neuroma, and tarsal tunnel syndrome are 2 named conditions for very specific nerve compression syndromes which we successfully treat, but are not the only ones possible.

Symptoms:
You may experience any of the symptoms common to a nerve entrapment which include:

  • Sharp-Shooting electrical-like pulses of pain
  • Constant burning or achy feelings
  • Feeling that the toe is 3 times larger than it really is, like your lip when the dentist freezes your mouth
  • Sensations of pins and needles or total numbness
  • Temperature change, either sensation of cold or hot
  • Skin of the toe(s) hurts when anything touches it, as with sheets when sleeping.

Causes:
Nerve entrapments form when the connective tissues which surround and protect them develop dense fibrotic twisted/tangled fibrous bands, thus compressing them.

Nerves in the body carry out two important functions. They supply information from the brain to cause muscles to contract to create movement at a joint. Secondly, they carry sensory information including temperature, pressure, movement and pain information from the ankle and foot back up to the brain. Basically, nerve signals traveling down from the brain are termed “motor” signals, as they cause muscles to contract to cause movement (motor). Nerve signals traveling back up to the brain are termed “sensory” as they carry sensory information about the structures in the foot.

If any of these nerve fibres are being squeezed, the signals they carry may be partially interfered with, or totally blocked from passing up or down the nerve. A major point of interest must be made here. There are very few muscles in the foot. In fact, we have only 4 major muscles contained within the 26 bones of the foot. The ankle and foot have mostly tendons which attach at various sites on the foot. The muscles which these tendons belong to are located higher up in the calf and shin of the leg.

If a nerve entrapment forms on the ankle or foot, it will likely result in sensory loss symptoms, such as pins & needles, pain, pressure, numb or fat toes, rather than a loss of strength since the strength of the foot comes from muscles higher up in the leg.

This is a major diagnostic tool we use in determining where a nerve compression is situated, based upon whether symptoms are of a sensory or motor nature.

Nerves can become compressed for a number of reasons described below:

Swelling:
Anytime an ankle or foot becomes swollen, the increased lymphatic fluid which is entrapped in the region can directly cause sufficient pressure to squeeze a nerve. Such swelling can come from a local trauma like an ankle sprain, bone fracture or tendonitis of any of the numerous tendons which attach on the foot. Swelling can also arise from arthritis, poor blood circulation, or other more systemic factors such as diabetes, weakening heart function or rheumatoid arthritis.

Connective Tissue Compression-Adhesions
Fascia is a very strong connective tissue found all over the body. Its purpose is to bind and protect muscles, nerves, bones, and ligaments. However, fascia itself can become fibrotic resulting from repetitive strain on its fibres as it provides protection for the other tissues it encompasses. If this fascia develops sufficiently hard or large dysfunctions within its fibres, the resulting twisted/tangled bands squeeze the nerve fibres in that region. This is an overused form of entrapment which may result from jogging or other running type sports, over-weight causing higher than normal pressures on the ankle and foot, or wearing of improper footwear to name a few.

Sciatica:
Sciatica is a nerve compression of the sciatic nerve, which can be compressed in the spine where the nerve exit the vertebrae, or in the gluteal (buttock) muscles of the thigh. The Sciatic nerve is the main nerve supplying the foot with both motor and sensory function. It is located deep within the buttocks, runs down the back of the leg, through the calf muscle to reach the foot. Although the names of the smaller nerves in the foot have different names, they are extensions of the larger Sciatic nerve. The Sciatic nerve and its smaller fibres of the foot are exactly like a major highway and its smaller roads.

Decreased Circulation:
This condition can’t cause a nerve entrapment but can have similar symptoms as that of a nerve entrapment. Diabetics eventually develop nerve entrapment symptoms as time passes due to the arterial and venous (veins) damage due to long-term insulin use.

Treatment
Treatment of any nerve entrapment or compression is extremely simple and quick. First, we locate where the compression(s) are located, so we may determine the underlying cause of the compression.

Treating a nerve compression in the foot when it was somewhere else would be totally ineffective. For example, if the Sciatic nerve is being squeezed higher up at the low-back region where its fibres leave the spine, then treatments would be totally ineffective. If the entrapment is due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid (swelling), then treatment would have to focus on reducing the swelling. Identifying the cause(s) also ensures that our treatments fully resolve the condition.

An integrated treatment approach with shockwave therapy and neuromuscular therapy breaks apart the connective tissue bands responsible for compressing the nerves.

Only a few treatments are required to successfully release the connective tissue hold on the nerves.

There is no pain or discomfort following any treatment. In fact, you will have less pain since the nerve compression is being released.

For more information on this condition, or any other condition we offer treatments for, schedule a no charge consultation/assessment.

     

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