What is Foot Nerve Pain?

Foot nerve pain is also known as peripheral neuropathy. It is pain caused in the extremities of the body, in this case the feet, due to damaged nerves which send messages to the brain.

Symptoms are usually noticeable all of the time, but they can also come and go. These symptoms include:

  • A tingling sensation in the feet
  • A shooting, stabbing or burning pain in the feet
  • Numbness and loss of sensation in the feet
  • Weakened foot muscles
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

What Causes Foot Nerve Pain?

This condition can be caused by a variety of different things, and unfortunately it can sometimes occur for no specific reason. The main cause of foot nerve pain is diabetes, as high blood sugar levels cause damage to the peripheral nerves.

painful foot


However, foot nerve pain can also be caused by a viral infection like shingles, a physical injury which damages the nerves as a result. It can even occur as a side effect of excess alcohol consumption, or from taking certain medications.

Foot nerve pain can result as a side effect of lower back pain and it can also begin after chemotherapy treatment sessions.

How Can You Help Relieve Foot Nerve Pain?

foot nerve pain

There are many ways to help relieve foot nerve pain. Here are some of the most popular and effective treatments:

Prescription Medication and Medical Treatments

There are a variety of prescription medications which your doctor will be able to provide you with these are dependent on the cause and nature of your foot nerve pain.

These include strong painkillers such as tramadol, medications for seizures, antidepressants, narcotics, injections of corticosteroids or immunoglobulin, and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

Other medical treatments that your doctor can do for you include a vitamin B12 injection if you are deficient, plasmapheresis (a transfusion of blood that can remove irritating antibodies), and transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS), a drug free treatment which aims to disrupt nerve signals and prevent them from sending pain messages to your brain.

Topical Ointments

There are some topical ointments available which may provide relief from your symptoms of foot nerve pain. The first is lidocaine, an anaesthetic which can be applied in ointment, gel, or patch form. This helps to numb the area and to provide temporary relief from pain. It can be obtained over the counter, or in prescription-strength form.

The second ointment is capsaicin, which contains ingredients derived from hot chillies. This ointment makes your skin feel hot and like it is burning, however, for foot pain sufferers who have used this product regularly over a period of time, it appears to reduce levels of discomfort.

Over the Counter Painkillers

While they might not be sufficient for more serious cases of foot nerve pain, over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories like Panadol and Nurofen may be effective for more minor cases. Try taking these medications at the recommended dosage to see if they have any effect but be careful not to exceed this dosage.

Chiropractic, Acupuncture, or Massage Treatments

Many alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage, or seeing a chiropractor can help to relieve foot nerve pain. While they may not appeal to everyone, many sufferers of peripheral neuropathy have found some relief through the use of these methods. Ask your medical professional for advice on whether they would recommend this approach for your particular condition.

foot massage

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

There are a number of changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to help reduce the levels of foot nerve pain that you experience.

Regulating Blood Sugar Levels

If your foot nerve pain is due to diabetes, one of the best ways to relieve it is by keeping your blood sugar levels under control and at the optimal level. Some ways to effectively do this are:

  • Reducing your intake of carbohydrates
  • Increasing your intake of fiber
  • Consuming foods rich in chromium and magnesium
  • Drinking enough water to stay adequately hydrated
  • Losing excess weight
  • Controlling your stress levels

Taking Good Care of Your Feet

Foot nerve pain usually results in a loss of sensation in the feet. This means it is a lot easier to injure them so you must take extra care. Ensure that you wash and check your feet each day. It is also a good idea to see a podiatrist on a regular basis. Don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor if you find any signs of injury or infection on your feet.

Soaking Your Feet

By soaking your feet in warm water or a warm bath you help to increase circulation and improve the flow of blood to your extremities. This inexpensive treatment is also beneficial for relieving stress, however, remember to check the temperature of the water using your elbow or hand instead of your foot. You risk further damage to your feet by immersing them in water that is too hot.

Applying Ice to Your Feet

Applying ice to your feet has a similar numbing effect as the topical anaesthetics already mentioned, however, it is much easier to get hold of and cheaper to do. Ice applied for up to 15 minutes at a time can reduce inflammation in the feet and help to provide relief from foot nerve pain.

Not Staying in the Same Position for Too Long

This is particularly important if you lead a sedentary lifestyle or if spend your working hours sitting at a desk. Changing position and moving around every hour or two will help promote blood circulation to your feet, which can help to relieve foot nerve pain.

Taking Regular Exercise

As we all know, regular exercise has numerous benefits. As well as releasing endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, physical exercise increases the flow of blood to nerves in the feet and can help to nourish your damaged nerves and improve their function. It’s best to start slowly with a short and low impact walk. From there you can progress to longer or more intensive exercise if you feel it is possible.

Taking Care When Buying Footwear

If you are suffering from foot nerve pain it is very important to care of your feet correctly and ensure that they are as protected as possible. This extends to purchasing the most comfortable and supportive shoes for your feet, even if they are not the most stylish pair available.

Ensure that your shoes are correctly fitted and think about using insoles or inserts to give your feet extra support. While these may seem like an expensive investment, they make sure that your weight is distributed evenly and correctly across your feet, reducing pain levels as a result.

Reducing Your Cigarette and Alcohol Consumption

This one is a no-brainer. Apart from the many health problems that are caused or made worse by excessive smoking and drinking, alcohol and tobacco are both substances which can aggravate foot nerve pain. They can even be responsible for causing nerve damage in the first place.

Getting Adequate Sleep

As foot nerve pain can feel worse during the night, it is important to have good sleeping habits to help try and avoid this. To make, and keep, a healthy sleep pattern you need to aim for eight hours of sleep each night. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bed and ensure your bedroom is a calm space dedicated to rest and relaxation.

Meditation and Yoga

Techniques including yoga, guided meditation, and even hypnosis may be of benefit to sufferers of foot nerve pain. While they probably won’t drastically reduce pain levels, these techniques may help you to relax and deal with pain levels better so that your quality of life is improved.

Using Essential Oils

Giving your feet a massage can be a beneficial treatment when trying to alleviate foot pain. And if you use certain essentials oils during the massage, those oils can provide further benefits to you. Geranium oil in particular can reduce levels of foot nerve pain, and many other essential oils have aromas which provide relaxing and calming effects, such as lavender oil.

What Precautions Can be Taken to Prevent the Onset of Foot Nerve Pain?

sore feet

Sometimes peripheral neuropathy is hereditary, but even if it is in your family history there are still ways in which you can help to prevent its onset. These include:

  • Drinking limited quantities of alcohol, or ideally none
  • Eating healthily on a regular basis
  • Giving up or avoiding smoking completely
  • Exercising at a moderate intensity on a regular basis
  • Avoiding or reducing your exposure to toxins
  • Protecting your feet, especially during sporting activities

Whatever your situation may be with the condition that is causing your foot nerve pain, you can rest assured that relief from your symptoms is possible through any combination of these methods and treatments.

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