Nerve Pain and Dysfunction in Lower Legs and Ankles

The lower legs, feet, and ankles provide balance, stability, and the ability to stand, sit, walk, run, jump, and kick. They are always in use, whether awake or asleep. When nerve conditions arise, they pose severe barriers to quality of life.

Woman grabbing her ankle while out on a run

Lower Leg and Ankle Nerve Symptoms

If any area of the nervous system serving the lower legs and ankles was injured, or the nerves compressed at the knee or ankle, the symptoms can include:

  • Numbness
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Weakness in the ankle or leg
  • Foot drop (cannot be held up)
  • Walking difficulties
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of leg or ankle control
  • Loss of muscle mass

Nerve Conditions Affecting Lower Legs and Ankles

Several nerve conditions can affect the function or lead to pain and discomfort. These conditions include:

  • Peroneal neuropathy: The peroneal nerve is one branch of the sciatic nerve, which sends and receives sensation to the lower leg, ankles, feet, and toes. An injury to the peroneal nerve can cause severe nerve pain in the lower leg area, often the result of damage to the nerve as it passes through the knee structure. The ability to raise toes may be affected, along with the foot feeling as if it is dropping while you are in motion. In the most severe cases, the patient may not be able to turn the ankle. The condition may be called “common fibular nerve dysfunction.”
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy is a medical term describing nerve damage to the peripheral nervous system, the nerves that are outside the brain and spine. Many people who have diabetes suffer leg nerve fiber damage, with tingling, numbness, or more serious symptoms.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome: The tibial nerve travels through the bones and ligaments in the ankle. In tarsal tunnel syndrome, the nerves are damaged or constricted, causing burning, tingling, or pain, often experienced on the bottom of the feet and toes.
  • Nerve entrapment: A nerve that has been under pressure for a long time can cause the nerve surface to break down, allowing body fluids to leak into it, leading to inflammation and swelling. This condition is also called a pinched nerve or nerve compression. The pressure on the nerve must be relieved surgically, or the nerve could be more seriously damaged. The nerve entrapment conditions affecting the ankles include tarsal tunnel syndrome and peroneal neuropathy. 

What Causes Lower Leg and Ankle Nerve Dysfunction?

The symptoms may be the result of a knee injury, a fracture of the lower leg bone (fibula), the constant crossing of the legs, knee surgery, a sports injury, or due to autoimmune conditions, diabetes, or overconsumption of alcohol. In some rare cases, it may be caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a rare disorder affecting the entire nervous system.

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Can Lower Leg and Ankle Pain or Dysfunction be Resolved?

The treatments for nerve-related pain affecting the lower legs and ankles will vary based on the patient’s condition. The first action is a careful examination, a discussion with the patient about the symptoms experienced, and a range of advanced tests to pinpoint the cause of the pain or dysfunction. The treatments could be surgical or non-surgical, or both and include:

  • Icing to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint denervation
  • Splints, braces
  • Nerve grafts
  • Nerve repair
  • Nerve transfers
  • Nerve tumor excision
  • Regenerative peripheral nerve interface
  • Ultrasound-guided injections
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Why Choose Us?

You may have been passed from doctor to doctor, hoping to resolve ongoing pain or other symptoms without relief. Are you frustrated with living with pain without an accurate diagnosis or effective treatment plan? Our nerve pain professionals at The Atlas Institute believe you should be able to lead a pain-free life, with a return to normal function, with pain dramatically reduced or entirely gone. At our state-of-the-art nerve center, we are equipped with the latest in diagnostic and therapeutic technology, and we deliver surgical and non-surgical solutions for nerve pain or dysfunction affecting the lower legs and ankles.

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