Foot pain from sciatica


THE NERVE that transmits signals to and from the foot is the sciatic nerve (Figure 11-1). If something is wrong with the foot, the sciatic nerve transmits the sensation of pain to the brain. 

sciatic nerve

I have seen cases of low back and sacroiliac conditions express as foot pain without the leg pain.

If your foot pain is due to a pinched nerve in your low back, check out my book Combat Low Back Pain to learn more about how to get your back well so it no longer causes pain in your foot.

sciatic nerve distributionFigure 11‑3: This image shows the regions of the lower leg
that the different branches of the sciatic nerve supply.

Branches of the sciatic nerve can be squished by muscles in the lower leg. When this happens, you usually feel pain at the site of the muscle as well as pain that radiates to the region in the leg that the nerve supplies (Figure 11-3). 

For example, if the peroneus muscle on the lateral (outer) side of the leg is tight, it can put pressure on the superficial peroneal nerve, causing pain in the lateral side of the low leg (Figure 11-4). It can also put pressure on the deep peroneal nerve, causing pain between the first and second toes.

foot pain

Figure 11‑4: Sciatic nerve pinched at the knee causing leg and foot pain.

A tight peroneus muscle can cause foot pain (Figure 11-5), but if the compression is deep and intense enough, it can interrupt the nerve’s ability to make a muscle contract. When this occurs, the foot drops (the medical term being “foot drop”). If you notice your ability to raise your toes and foot is weakening, the nerve needs to be immediately decompressed, which may require surgery. 

Stretching your calf muscles (CLICK HERE for the stretches) and massaging your peroneus muscle (CLICK HERE to watch a demonstration on how to massage your calf) should alleviate the pain. If it does not resolve or worsens in any way, talk with your healthcare provider. Sometimes surgery is needed to decompress the nerve at this level. If you wait too long, your nerve can be permanently damaged from being under too much pressure for too long.

foot pain

Figure 11‑5: Pinched branch of the sciatic nerve causing foot pain.

If the irritation of the nerve is at the ankle, you will feel pain in the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is where a branch of the sciatic nerve is pinched at the ankle. If it is pinched here, try stretching the calf and foot. If it does not resolve, again, talk to your healthcare provider (hopefully that is one of us here at Drummond Chiropractic if you are in Bloomington, IN) to see if decompressive surgery is required.

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Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Foot Pain Specialists
565 N Walnut St 
Bloomington, IN 47404

(812) 336 - 2423


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