What Is Sural Nerve Injury?

Have you ever heard of a sural nerve injury? Our 15-year-old daughter is an equestrian rider. She got bucked off a horse and her foot was stuck in the stirrup. Now she has numbness and tingling in her ankle and foot. The diagnosis is sural nerve injury. What does that mean? Will she get better?

The sural nerve (also known as the short saphenous nerve) is a sensory nerve, which means it conveys sensory messages. Damage or compression of the sural nerve can result in burning pain and diminished sensation or loss of sensation (numbness).

This nerve passes down from the back of the knee along the outside of the lower leg. It's located along the surface of the lower one-third of the leg. It passes along the outer bone of the ankle, just behind the malleolus (ankle bone). Then it goes along the outside edge of the heel to the base of the fifth (baby) toe.

Injury usually occurs along the superficial portion where it is closer to the skin and more likely to be crushed or compressed. It supplies the skin and soft tissues along the lower third of the lower leg with sensory function. Tingling, burning pain, or loss of sensation anywhere along this pathway suggests a sural nerve injury.

Vijay Jotwani, MD, et al. Cutaneous Sural Nerve Injury After Lateral Ankle Sprain: A Case Report. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. March 2008. vol. 25. No. 3. Pp. 126-128.

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