A pinched nerve in the foot, also called a neuroma, is the result of damage to the nerve. In a neuroma, there is an abnormal growth of tissue that presses on the nerve, causing the actual pinch of the nerve that brings about pain and discomfort. A pinched nerve is rarely serious and will typically resolve on its own even without treatment, although there are many remedies available to ease the pain while the foot is healing.
Neuroma in the foot is often the result of poorly fitted shoes, especially those that compress the toes together and push them forward, such as women's high-heeled shoes over two inches tall. Trauma and repeated stress are other potential causes of a pinched nerve in the foot. People with high arches or who have flat feet are more prone to developing a pinched nerve in the foot.
A foot with a pinched nerve may feel numb or may tingle. The affected individual may feel pain in the foot, which can radiate outward from the source. The foot might twitch or feel weak. Some people describe the sensations that accompany a pinched nerve as felling like the foot "falls asleep" or feels like "pins and needles." The area may swell or become red. The pain may increase when the person wears shoes or walks. The most common location to feel a pinched nerve in the foot is between the third and fourth toes.
The main treatment for a pinched nerve in the foot is to relax the foot and allow the area to heal itself, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Pain caused by a neuroma can be eased by applying topical lotions or creams containing L-arginine, by massaging the area or by placing an ice pack on the foot. In severe cases, a doctor may inject corticosteroids into the nerve. If other treatments fail, a doctor can perform surgery to remove the growth pressing on the nerve.
Pinched nerves in the foot can be avoided by wearing supportive footwear with shock-absorbent soles, plenty of room in the toe and low or no heels. Insoles or custom shoe inserts may also help, especially for people who have had a neuroma in the past. Individuals prone to neuroma of the foot may also try exercises, such as picking up a pencil with the toes, in order to build up flexibility and strength.
Because a pinched nerve in the foot often occurs in conjunction with diabetes or pre-diabetes, anyone experiencing neuroma should consult with a doctor to have his blood sugar tested, suggests Footcare Direct. A doctor may also advise an overweight patient with a pinched nerve in the foot to lose weight to prevent a recurrence of the problem later and to protect the individual from developing diabetes.