When Nerves Hurt: Part I

Neuritis is the inflammation of a nerve. Usually the inflammation causes pain in the area surrounding a nerve, such as in the outside of the heel with sural neuritis. However, it can also cause paresthesias, or odd sensations in the same area. Examples include tingling, numbness, the sensation of bugs crawling on you, burning, and electricity. The way to identify nerve pain is that the pain does not always stay in one place and it usually isn’t sharp or dull. Neuritis is most common after some kind of insult to the nerve, whether from surgery or from poorly fitting shoes or from a trauma. The resulting symptoms can be quite variable and can affect daily life.

What you can expect:

  • Your podiatrist may want to try some special tests on you to determine if it is indeed a nerve problem such as hot and cold testing, two point perception and vibratory testing
  • They may order more extensive testing such as electromyography or nerve conduction studies
  • If the neuritis is painful, they may suggest creams or topical medications that can calm the nerves by overwhelming them
  • They may suggest oral medications
  • Another treatment may be physical therapy to overstimulate the nerve or release an entrapment
  • They may suggest a change in shoes or treatment for the problem anatomy (such as removing an extra bone to relieve pressure)
  • They may just offload the area with orthotics or pads

This disorder is not easy to treat and it may require multiple attempts at treatment before some relief is obtained. Your podiatrist may also refer you to a pain specialist or neurologist for specific therapy. Remember to be patient with yourself, your body and your doctor so that the right treatment can be found for you.

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