Pain in the foot caused by nerve damage is more common than you may think. The pain may present as burning, tingling, weakness or numbness. Pain is created by irritation or damage to the nerves somewhere along the path from the spine cord down to the feet.  Medical conditions, injury or side effects of medication can all cause these symptoms.

Spinal conditions that can cause nerve problems in the feet include:

  • ‘Slipped’ disc or disc prolapse/hernia
  • Spinal stenosis

Intact nerves are required to make your muscles work properly. They also control your balance and provide information on different sensations like hot and cold. Damage anywhere along the nerve leads to an inability to carry these messages correctly and can result in pain in the feet. Altered sensation with/without pain is called neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy can either come on suddenly or develop over time.  The most common cause is diabetes, due to changes in your blood sugar levels. Alcohol, infection and the side effects of some medications can also develop peripheral neuropathy. Injury or compression of one of the nerves in the tarsal tunnel can cause a burning sensation in the foot. This condition is called tarsal tunnel syndrome and is very similar to a more common condition in the wrist and hand called carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you have any feeling of numbness or nerve pain in your feet then you must speak with your doctor as soon as you can. They will assess your feet, look into your medical history and do further tests to find the cause.