foot anatomy dr. thomas mcdonald hartford

Treating Medial Plantar Nerve Entrapment

Your medial plantar nerve is a major sensory nerve that traverses the underside of your foot, and a number of symptoms can develop if the nerve becomes damaged or compressed. Due to its location and the amount of stress we put on our feet, it’s not uncommon for this nerve to become irritated or compressed by a nearby structure. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at what happens when the medial plantar nerve becomes entrapped and how Dr. McDonald can help you treat the condition.

Causes And Symptoms Of Plantar Nerve Entrapment

Plantar nerve entrapment is also commonly referred to as jogger’s foot, and you can probably infer from that description that one of the main causes of the condition is repetitive trauma to the foot area. Acute or repetitive strain can cause tissues in the area to swell or inflame and put pressure on the medial nerve at the arch of the foot. Aside from runners, the condition is also common in athletes who are regularly on their feet and people who regularly wear high heels or shoes with limited arch support.

Some of the most common symptoms associated with medial nerve entrapment include:

  • Tingling sensation
  • Numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • The feeling of ankle looseness or instability
  • Worsening symptoms after physical activity

These symptoms are oftentimes housed in the arch of your foot, but they can travel down the foot towards the first and second toes. If you are experiencing discomfort in this area, especially if you’re recently increased the amount of strain on your feet, consider setting up an appointment with your primary care physician or a foot specialist like Dr. McDonald.

Diagnosing And Treating Medial Nerve Entrapment

Left untreated, and symptoms like numbness and pain can become permanent, so it’s important to proactively treat the condition, even if that doesn’t mean that you connect with a specialist at the first sign of an issue. If you do visit a doctor, they’ll ask you about your symptoms, review your medical history and conduct a physical exam. During this exam they may use their hands to place pressure on specific areas of your foot or have you perform a few simple movements to see how your foot responds to these actions. They may order additional testing in the form of an MRI or ultrasound, but imaging is not always necessary.

If medial nerve entrapment is suspected, your doctor will likely begin by recommending a combination of conservative treatment. The main focus will be on taking pressure off the affected area, so they will want you to curb athletic activity or heavy weight bearing activities for a short while. They also may take a closer look at your footwear and recommend that you switch to a more supportive shoe or consider an orthotic insert that offers more protection to a specific area of your foot. Ice and medication can also help to resolve inflammation and symptoms before gradually increasing your activity levels. Some doctors also recommend physical therapy to strengthen the entire foot and take some stress off the arch and your medial nerve.

In the rate instances where conservative care fails to provide relief, your specialist may recommend a minimally invasive decompression procedure. During surgery, your doctor will make a small incision in order to access the nerve and free it from any offending structures. Surgery has a high rate of success, but it will take some time to fully recover after the procedure. Most patients return to athletic training about six weeks after their surgery is complete.

If you have questions or concerns about what you believe to be a nerve issue in your foot, or you want help with a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889. 

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