Sural nerve entrapment

The sural nerve is the nerve in your lower leg that is responsible for sensation to the foot. It sends sensory information from the foot and calf to the brain. It lies close to the short saphenous vein; this is a major vein located in your calf.

If this becomes trapped or compressed, it can lead to pain in the legs and feet. This is called sural nerve entrapment. This is often caused by scar tissue.

The symptoms that patients experience can be different depending on the severity. Here are some of the most common symptoms that patients experience:

  • Pain in the leg and/or foot
  • Pain in the Achilles heel (weakness in strength of the foot and ankle)
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected leg

If you notice any of these symptoms it is important that you go to see your doctor as soon as possible to help reduce the risk of any long-term damage.

To diagnose a sural nerve entrapment, your doctor will go over the different symptoms that you are experiencing and conduct a physical examination to assess the affected area. They may also conduct a test called a Tinel’s test. This involves tapping the affected nerve, if the causes tingling, pins and needles or electric shock like pain then the test is positive and proves that a sural nerve entrapment is the right diagnosis. The symptoms can sometimes be confused with spinal  nerve compression so it takes a specialist to diagnose this.

The treatment that you are offered depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases you will have to start with lifestyle changes, such as reducing the pressure put on the affected leg, icing and elevating the affected leg. If there is significant pain, anti-inflammatories can be offered to help bring down the pain and inflammation. Another option is a steroid injection; this reduces the pressure on the nerve and the inflammation. The final option, that is only offered in severe cases, is surgery. This involves releasing the trapped nerve to therefore eliminating the symptoms.