Ankle/foot hurts and feels numb all of a sudden. Not sure what's wrong?
January 19, 2019 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Last night, out of the blue, my foot felt like it was sprained/twisted, with pain, even though it wasn't and nothing happened externally to impact it. Has anyone else experienced this?

Yes, I acknowledge YANMD, and yes, I have contacted Kaiser's advice nurse. Basically was advised to wait it out a few days, try RICE and ibuprofen. This is still freaking me out. I rely a lot on my feet to walk to/from work and around, as I don't have a car. I'm lucky to live in an area that is immediately next to public transportation, though, and consider myself pretty active in terms of walking.

Last night, out of the blue, while sitting, my left foot/ankle felt like it was sprained/twisted, even though it wasn't (and hadn't been in over a year). It's hard to explain, but basically, the foot felt "heavy"/numb/a bit tingly, when I tried moving it, I would feel pain, but not on the skin or the bone... more of through the blood "tubes", if that makes sense. I took ibuprofen, took a hot shower, put ice on it, and noticed after the ice, it hurt a bit more.

However, sleeping it off, this morning, it felt MUCH better, the pain much less acute, but did feel a bit stiff and still hurt a bit to walk. It was still much better, and I didn't feel the sharp "output" of pain whenever I tried to move/adjust my foot.

Recently, I put ice on it again, and elevated the foot, and the pain is back. I could barely walk or move my foot without feeling the pain.

I'm not sure what's going on. I didn't change my movements, slip or fall, or do anything weird or new with my foot. There's no discoloration or swelling as far as I can see. This came completely out of the blue. I don't have high arch or a completely flat foot. DVT applies to the calf and leg, which isn't affected so far. It just... hurts. Pretty much the same symptoms as spraining an ankle, kind of.

I know I could go to the urgent care center to get it checked out, but that'd mean a long wait and probably being told to just RICE, and having to secure an interpreter, etc., which is a hassle. I've been resting and trying not to use the foot too much. I tried walking around, and had to limp a bit, but basically it didn't hurt too badly until the ice was applied recently, which left my foot pretty much immobile (temporarily, I'm sure).

Has anyone experienced this kind of thing before, especially the out of blue onset? What could it possibly be? And, yes, again, I acknowledge, YANMD and not asking for an official diagnosis, but if anyone had similar experiences or whatnot, that would be great to help give me an idea what I'm in for.
posted by dubious_dude to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
IANAD, but my guess would be a pinched or irritated nerve of some variety. Rest is the general thing to do in that case, and it will probably go away on its own with time. If it doesn’t, then see a doctor.
posted by snowmentality at 12:44 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

You can always try heat as an alternative and see if that loosens up whatever it is. Would definitely try that at some point!
posted by limeonaire at 12:57 PM on January 19

I have injured my feet and ankles several times without knowing it, just from normal use. While I acknowledge that my medical history is not what most people would consider normal, it is possible.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:01 PM on January 19

I got plantar fasciitis after a move where I was doing a lot more walking carrying heavy things than usual. It's inflamed tissue, but since it didn't start when I was doing what irritated it, it did feel like it came out of nowhere. Stretching the foot helped, being careful with the foot helped, eventually it went away. I did see my regular doctor about it but apparently it's pretty common and heals on its own.
posted by sputzie at 1:26 PM on January 19

So just over a year ago, you did injure this ankle/foot?

Old injuries have a way of coming back to haunt you.

Myriad reasons why. For instance, you could have changed the way you walk after recovering from the former injury and just now, the stress from the change is too much (similar to the stress of carrying something awkward, although not at all obvious when you're walking). Or you have some minor nerve damage. Or you have some scar tissue that's interfering with something in some way.

Did you have any PT or long-term follow-up after the former injury?

That said, it will probably go away after some R&R.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:47 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Very helpful responses, thank you! I'm betting it's most likely a pinched/irritated nerve, as looking online at the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the ankle/foot seems to match mine. Plantar fascilitis could be another possibility; however, that seems to be more for the heel itself, which I don't really have any pain in--it's more of on the side. Trying a heat pack would be a good idea - that might be more soothing to the pain itself.

I did sprain/twist my ankle in November 2017, yes. I was not aware of any way I walked differently following the recovery, although it's possible I didn't notice. It still seems like a long enough time ago to not affect what happened last night, but what do I know as a non-doctor :)

I didn't go to my doctor after my sprain in 2017... at the time, I didn't feel that was necessary, as it was a simple sprain and recovered within about two or so weeks, and didn't sprain it again at all in 2018 or early 2019.

I'm thinking if this goes on for the next few days, I'll try to get a doctor's checkup, maybe asking my PCP to refer me to a foot doctor within the Kaiser system to make sure everything's shipshape with my foot/ankle. I'll try to rest though, and not walk around too much. It's hard because my gait depends on the injured ankle/foot more, but I'll try and manage.

Any other tips or suggestions for a quicker recovery?
posted by dubious_dude at 2:25 PM on January 19

I’ve had this happen a couple of times—what has helped is ice, elevation, and rolling my foot gently over a can or jar on it’s side to gently stretch it. It generally goes away in a day or so. IANMD.
posted by bookmammal at 2:32 PM on January 19

Gout might start to manifest like this, not for certain but maybe possibly. It usually starts in toes (not always) and usually gets worse in bed at night. There's a simple blood test to indicate it, and proper prescription medication that helps a lot. (For temporary relief, maybe consider Naproxen + Tylenol -instead- of Ibuprofen, after very closely reading all of the data involved, of course).
posted by ovvl at 3:19 PM on January 19

would feel pain, but not on the skin or the bone... more of through the blood "tubes",

That’s exactly how some pinched nerve pain feels to me, as well as rarely some ligament/tendon pain. Basically we are not that good at identifying internal pain, imo.

I’d say do gentle stretches and exercises with it every day for at least 15 min, ideally under supervision/advice of an expert, but also you can read up and find a routine that works for you on your own.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:16 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

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