Nerve pain, sometimes referred to as neuropathic pain, is a prickling, tingling or stabbing pain that arises as a result of damaged nerves sending false signals. These signals cause health problems when they do not allow an individual to feel pain associated with an injury to the foot or ankle. For example, diabetic patients with neuropathy in the feet may not be aware of open wounds, trauma to the foot or other foot problems that would normally cause then to seek treatment or modify their activities.
There are many conditions that can cause nerve pain such as diabetes, celiac disease, toxins, autoimmune conditions, Vitamin B12 deficiency, trauma etc.
Nerve Pain Treatments
There are seven different treatments for nerve pain:
- Prescription drugs
The choice of prescription drugs you use for nerve pain depends on the cause of your pain, how serious it is and the potential side effects. Below is a list of prescription drugs your doctor may recommend.
- Topical treatments. There are painkiller gels and lidocaine patches that can help to reduce nerve pain when applied on the affected area of the skin. They only have one minor side effect, which is skin irritation.
- Anticonvulsants: These drugs are traditionally used on people suffering from epilepsy to reduce the frequency and severity of their seizures. It is also useful for nerve pain as it helps to dull or block the pain. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants help in controlling nerve pain symptoms. There are two major types of antidepressants – Tricylic and SNRIS (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors).
- Painkillers: If you are experiencing severe nerve pain, opioid painkillers can help to reduce it. Although they work very quickly, they have serious side effects such as stomach upset, sedation, constipation, the risk of addiction and abuse. Doctors tend to use it as the last resort when other treatments fail. Other pain killers include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Natural treatments
These are conservative treatments that can also help to reduce nerve pain. One of them is acupuncture. Acupuncture releases chemicals that dull or block the pain signals coming from the nerves. A dietary supplement like Vitamin B12 is an alternative natural treatment that can be effective. However, before you use try treatments, discuss with your doctor to make sure they do not interfere with prescription medications you may be taking.
- Electrical stimulation
Electrical simulation is the process of sending an electrical signal from a damaged nerve to the brain. The charges produced by the electrical signal block the pain signal, helping to reduce nerve pain. Examples of this approach are transcutaneous electrical nerve simulation (TENS), Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) and Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).
Exercise helps to release natural painkillers known as endorphins. It also enhances blood flow to the nerves in the legs and feet. When you exercise regularly, you are creating a long-lasting expansion in blood vessels in your feet and repairing damaged nerves. It also reduces the pain and gives you more energy. You can start by walking daily and increasing activity as your fitness allows.
- Foot care
If your feet are affected by nerve pain, a good way to relieve the pain is by taking care of your feet. Nerve pain increases the risk of injuries and infections. You can reduce these risks by taking care of your feet daily, wearing supportive shoes that are comfortable for your feet. Whenever you notice an injury on your feet, consult with your Houston podiatrist.
Finally, nerve surgery may be recommended for those with chronic nerve pain caused by a neuroma (benign growths of nerve tissue that can easily become inflamed and irritated). Surgery can usually be performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthetic, with a brief recovery period of about 4-6 weeks.
There are several treatments for nerve pain in the feet. Make sure you consult your foot doctor for the most appropriate approach for your condition. Dr. Maislos is a board certified podiatrist in Houston with extensive experience treating all types of nerve pain and the complications that may develop over time. As a podiatric surgeon, he is also uniquely qualified to perform surgery when necessary. Call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment. Houston Foot and Ankle Care is a top Houston podiatry practice, located in the Sharpstown area. We accept all major forms of insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer discounted cash rates for uninsured patients.