A series of spinal nerves from your lower spine travel down your legs and terminate in your feet. When the nerve roots (part of the nerve as it exits the spine) of these spinal nerves are irritated or compressed, foot pain can occur. Foot pain can also occur if a nerve is compressed near your hip, knee, or in your foot.
This blog provides a list of common causes of foot pain and helpful pointers to help you understand the origin of your foot pain.
Foot pain caused by a spinal problem
Nerve root irritation or compression in the lumbar or sacral spine (lower back) may cause sciatica pain to radiate down your leg and into the foot. Specifically, compression of the S1 nerve root, also called classic sciatica, can cause pain along the outer side of your foot.
Nerve roots may be compressed or irritated due to a number of causes. Common examples include:
- Lumbar herniated disc: Leaking of the inner contents of an intervertebral disc
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease: Age-related changes causing narrowing and shrinkage of the disc
- Spondylolisthesis: Slipping of a vertebra over the one below it
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the bony openings for spinal nerves and/or the spinal cord
The inability to lift the front part of your foot or frequent tripping while walking may be due to a condition called foot drop. This condition is typically caused due to compression of the L5 nerve root. Rarely, compression of the L4 and/or S1 nerve roots may also cause foot drop.