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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nerve Pain: Email Advice

Hi Dr. Blake,

I have been following your posts for months now.  Hope you can help in even giving me direction and whether seeing you or a different kind of doc would be best next step.

Out of the blue in Jan., I noticed a constant nagging sensation like my sock was uneven on bottom of left foot/big toe and irritating it.  When I took off sock, the foot was bright red, swollen and painful to touch esp. in the metatarsal area and more so on middle joint of big toe.  There also seem to be a lump on that joint and when I even lightly touched it, would send a radiating pain up my leg, into my back and up the right side into my neck.
Dr Blake's comment: You are talking about the femoral nerve which has a branch to the big toe and can radiate like that. I am assuming that something from that joint irritated the nerve causing the nervous system breakdown. 

And once the pain was activated, my entire central nervous system went into hyper gear and it was impossible for me to bring it down -- with many different supplements, topicals, even meditation, etc.  The other piece that went hand in hand were areas on ball of foot and around the big and second toe that were blue and even pieces of vein protruding that were the most painful areas.
Dr Blake's comment: This is sounding like RSD, which stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.

Most of the acute symptoms have improved or disappeared since then although still some lingering issues that prevent me from going on a walk or doing even simple activities.
Dr Blake's comment: Sounds like you managed to create a nice pain free healing environment that is so important when the nervous system is barking soooo much!!

Since Jan. I have gone to a couple of different chiropractors who not only use activator, they also use techniques to break down fascia issues.  One thought that the major issue on big toe might have been capsulitis which also might be putting pressure on nerve.  I also went to osteopath.  He thought it was bursitis on big toe creating all the problems.  Also went to 2 different individuals that specialize in chiropractor neurology.  Their exam showed that the constant radiating pain had to do with pain center in brain not shutting off pain signals and my central nervous system had a hard time shifting to parasympathetic system.  Also X-ray of foot and back where taken.  No fractures in foot.  I have spinal stenosis I believe at L4/5 which I understand can trigger pain in first/second toe(???).  Also I do have a flat arch in the problem (left) foot.
Dr Blake's comment: This is helping with the whole picture. The L4 nerve root goes to the big toe. If this nerve is irritated at the back, and then irritated at the foot, a "double crush syndrome" occurs and the nervous system is very unhappy.

Practicing natural healing for decades, I have also done lots of remedies -- including vit. c, msm, an anti-inflammatory supplement with proteolitic enzymes, vit. B, B12, lion's man (medicinal mushroom for regrowing nerves), calc/mag + magnesium chloride (liquid and gel), comfrey compresses, castor oil compresses and the list goes on. I have also worked with feldenkrais practitioner and also try to stretch when id does not aggravate pain.
Dr Blake's comment: Neural Flossing or Gliding is great and relatively new to physical therapy world. It is a gentle way to stretch the involved nerves, not allowing scar tissue or swelling to collect around them. On my blog I have a video of one sciatic nerve flossing technique. 

Since Jan. I have not been able to use my customized orthotics, as areas where raised, trigger pain so I have gotten a cushy "not customized" orthotic from Walking Shoe Company that molds to foot and provides arch support.  That seems to work for now and does not trigger pain.
Dr Blake's comment: This a great idea, you have to remove any abnormal nerve stimulation.

I tried walking about 12 min. on dirt on Sunday (first time I tried to go for short walk) and couples of hours later I felt increased pain sensitivity.  Not unbearable,  rather a reminder something is still going on and simple activities still problematic. In Jan. pain level and intensity were probably a solid 10. now about 2-3 as long as I keep walking to minimum and not engage any other activities to aggravate it.

Sorry about long email.  Final comment .... being self employed, I have a very high deductible which essential means all of my medical expenses are paid out of my pocket.  Unfortunately, that piece does enter the equation of what I can do.

Deb (name changed)

Dear Deb,

     Thank you so very much for the email. You sound like you are at where one of my patients is right now: Wanting to remove the source since it could trigger it all over again. I do not blame you. You may have to save up your money so when you feel free to spend through your deductible (next year???) you can get the MRI or CT scan to identify the lump in your foot, and treat it. At the same time, you need to work on your back to get that as stable as possible (less chance irritating the L4 nerve root. All this can easily max a high deductible quickly, leaving 11 months to have the insurance doing the rest of the paying. I am so proud of how you dealt with the initial flare of RSD. Please send me 5-10 bullet points on the key things you felt were crucial getting this to 0-2 pain. Rich

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.