Undiagnosed Symptoms Community
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Avatar universal

Unknown and recurring tendon/ligament burning/tearing pain followed by numbness

For the past several years I've had long periods (upwards of 6 months at a time) of  excruciating burning/tearing pain in various tendons or ligaments when stretched.  

The first occurrence was in my right knee.  If I bent my knee near its maximum extent (such as when kneeling, crouching or climbing into bed), I experienced an incredibly painful tearing/burning sensation in the area of my patellar tendon.  I would immediately react and straighten my knee and the pain would completely dissipate within several minutes.  Afterward the area would feel about 50% numb, as if injected with a mild local anesthetic that was slowly wearing off, for several hours.  I mentioned this to my doctor and he just dismissed it as "you probably just strained your knee", but I hadn't.  Normal walking, running, jumping, etc caused no pain, weakness or instability and there was no swelling, bruising or other external indication of injury.  It was only while fully bent that the pain occurred. This episode lasted for at least 6 months.  Then, as quickly and mysteriously as it appeared, it was gone.

Some months later, I went to step up on a curb and I experienced the same tearing pain in my right Achilles tendon when I bent my foot upward near its max extent.  Just as with the knee, the pain subsided within a few minutes and a numbness was left behind.  This lasted several months as well, then suddenly disappeared.  

Next, the same happened in my right knee again, although this time it was in my Lateral Collateral ligament area.  This lasted for several months as well.  During this particular episode the numbness that followed the pain never completely subsided, though.  When the episode was over, I was left with a persisting slight numbness and slight pain sensitivity to external pressure (sensitive to the touch).  

About a month ago my fourth episode began and continues today.  This time it's along the outside of my right big toe and occurs when I extend my foot downward and point my toes, such as when putting on a pair of pants.  Like the last episode, the numbness is not subsiding after a pain attack.  

Overall the pain is short-lived when I forget myself and accidentally induce it.  It's more of a nuisance than anything, but at the same time it's troubling to think that there could be an underlying reason which may be serious.  

So I'd like to know if anyone else has experienced this and has a name to put on it so I can either put my mind at rest or get treatment without having to battle the usual "oh, you probably strained it, take some ibuprofen and see what happens" from my doc.

201 Responses
Avatar universal
This is exactly like what I have experienced ... my has been the arch of the foot (several times), elbow, and now just below the shoulders on the outside of the arm.  Unfortunately, I too have been unable to get a diagnois of any kind.  Doctors seem to think it is somehow in my head but I too am concerned that I could be doing some kind of real damage.  I have read other postings on running sites that indicate the same symptoms and everyone points to PF but that is not what this is.  I hope that someone will respond with some answers but in the meantime it is good to know that someone else is experiencing the same things.
Avatar universal
I too have experienced the same pailful tearing feeling on the side of my left knee. I have not an injury to my knee since I was 13 which I am not 36. I am very active and have been regularly working out using the Eliptical, Treadmill and the Arc Trainer plus doing the weight machines and lunges and squats and have never had a problem now all of a sudden I cannot fully bend my knee or it feels like it is burning and tearing.
Avatar universal
I too have been experiencing this but after a few months decided to see a neurologist thinking I injured a nerve.  I have within 3 weeks had a MRI of the brain to rule out MS.  I will be seeing my doctor sometime this week to check for results.  Will keep you all updated
Avatar universal
I too have had some similar symptoms.  I am male 37.  Some time last year I noticed a tearing feeling on the outside of my foot.  I now have been feeling a similar tearing feeling on the top of my hand coming down from between my index and middle finger and then it goes numb for a period.  What gender are the rest of you?  Some things like MS tend to be more common in one sex vs another.
Avatar universal
Exactly the same symptoms here - I have Diabetes so the first thought was that my blood sugar was out of control so that I might be getting what is known as Diabetic Neuropathy, but after testing my A1c (glucose counts) it was found that was not the case.

Since then, every time I mention it to my doctor I get the same response, take some Motrin, it will go away, etc.  But now I am dealing with four different spots on my body at the same time, and none of them are losing the numbness or super-sensitivity to touch.  One on my right hand between my pinkie and ring finger, one on my left thumb at the joint, one on the outside of my right knee (same issue with bending, but nothing else), and one on my right foor inside on the big toe.

Of course if I don't move just right everything is fine, but when I do something that is just right it feels like something has ripped through my skin, muscles, bone, etc.  It really is painful sometimes.

I was searching in the hopes that someone else not only had the same issues, but had a diagnosis as I am getting tired of spending $20 for my doctor to say take some motrin.
Avatar universal
Same Same. Only in my feet, Down the top of my big toe and my heel. It started 4 years ago down the side of my left foot to my little toe. Huge burning /tearing sensation when I extended my foot out. AS in to kick a ball or to kneel on the floor. This came and went for a while but slowly got worse...moved feet and now it is a constant numbness in my right foot to my big toe and heel - which pulls on the tendon when I extend my foot upwards - opposite to the toe pain. The constant numbness is annoying. I'm a 36 Y/O Male Fit Fat person who enjoys a tipple. I've been tested for gout...negative, and research on gout doesn't match my symptoms. I had accupuncture which seemed to work the first time, as pain went away for 6 days, so I had it again. It didn't work as well the second time. Maybe I'll try a third. I don't really know what to do next. I'll keep in touch.
Avatar universal
I'm a 51yr old female, who has been suffering for well over a year now, with tearing burning pain on the top of my right foot. Research tells me I'm probably suffering from, Extensor Tendinitis- inflammation & pain on the top of one's foot. Yet, I've not found an explanation for all of my pain. Working on my feet in retail, the pain began shooting up into my calf, then up in the muscles surrounding my knee, and now moving up into the inside of my thigh. When the pain is at its worse, it generates from top of my foot all the way up into my thigh. It swells on a daily basis and feels as though there is a 20lb weight wrapped around my leg. At night it is very difficult to fall asleep because the pain is more pronounced trying to relax. My doctor has yet to come up with a cause/treatment. Now, I'm experiencing this same burning & tearing in the outside of my left foot, real close to  the ankle bone. This is always in pain since I bend my foot to move and walk. The pain has begun moving into my calf. I found this forum quite by chance. I'll keep my fingers crossed that somebody will be properly diagnosed and will post their prognosis.
Avatar universal
I have had the same problems. First time I noticed it was when I knelt down on carpet to fix something. As soon as I was fully on my knees, I immediately felt that burning/tearing sensation that would not go away until I straightened out the knee and relieved the pressure on it. It seemed as though there were a nerve that was being pinched every time I knelt down. Soon the right side of my calf started to go slightly numb and now it is constant. The newest development has been this burning pain along the top of my right toe. It only lasts a few seconds, but it has been happening on a daily basis for the last few months. I have seen my doctor, and he suggested that it might be a problem with one of my nerves being pinched in my lower back. I have had back problems for a few year now, and it may be that there is a pinched nerve causing the problem. I had a MRI two days ago, and I will get the results in the next 10 days. I'll post the findings so maybe this will help someone else.
Avatar universal
I too have burning, pulling, tearing sensation followed by numbness, and it appears to be spreading.  Starting in my right foot, recently moving to my left foot, and now my thumbs and area on top of hand between 4th & 5th finger.   I have a clear nodule on the thumb and notice a reduction of muscle tone, despite active hands.   My doctor doesn't seem to hear me and suggested a shot of cortizone into one foot.   I see something more systemic progressing and am not quite sure what to do.   Both feet are getting large numb spots now on the bottom.  It's rather confounding.

Avatar universal
I too have burning, pulling, tearing sensation followed by numbness.  Mine is on the outside of my left leg just below the knee.  As far as I can tell, my patellar tendon.  The only time it bothers me is when I press against it as when I crawl onto the bed on my knees then roll to that side of my knee.  No pain at all until that area is pressed against the bed.  Then a painful ripping or tearing pain just as all describe.  When I run, no problem, nor any other time.  What is diturbing to me is that this problem might spread!  I'm thinking that I just pulled something, but it is too similar to what you all have.

I am curious about something here: do any of you have plantars row or plantar facitas, which in my case started with nodules along the tendon going from the big toe along the arch and continuing (?) as achilles heel.  Originally about 10 years ago I had a doc look at it and he said it was common.  So I stopped worrying about it, but as the years passed, i noticed that the roundish nodule became 2 then 3 and they sort of flatened.  I am not sure but i think this has spread to my achiles.  It seems that as long as i keep exercising, the morning stifness in the heel does not happen.  My point is maybe ther is a connection to the 2 problems?
Avatar universal
I'm a 42 y.o. female who was diagnosed with plantar fascitis a few months ago.  I get a stabbing pain in the bottom of my right heel that radiates to my big toe.  After some time, I developed a burning pain in my left Achilles Tendon and a numbness, tingling, and stiffness (both on the left foot).  I mentioned this to my podiatrist and he says that we'll have to "look at other things".  I know that these symptoms relate to diabetes, but a recent blood test shows no signs of it.  I was also told that these symptoms occur in someone who's had diabetes for years.

I don't have nodules in my feet, but I have experienced many blocked glands/ducts in my life.  I don't know if there's a correlation to this either.  I've had mastitis, cholesystitis, blepharitis (blocked tear duct), and a Bartholin cyst.  Also, I've never been able to sweat easily when working out.  I always got very hot and red in the face without any real perspiration.  So, I don't know if this is somehow related to my feet pain.  If there's anyone who's had alot of blocked ducts, I'd like to hear from you.

Anyway, I wish Magnator and everyone else in this forum the best of luck in getting some answers to these troublesome pains.

Avatar universal
I can't beleive that not one of you have mentioned hyper mobility syndrome!

I have hypermobile joints, they move further beyind their range than they should.   Also in my hands and feet I have movement in 'joints' that should be fixed.

I experience pain in my joints and often damage ligaments.
Because I experience pain with my hypermobility it is called hypermobile syndrome.

Everyone is different but I have joint pain in my hands, fingers, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders, hips and neck.
I get ligament problems in my feet, achillies and knees and I thihnk sometimes my hip pain is more tendon that joint pain.

I had physio thereapy to teach me how to walk in a way that did not make certain joints worse and to strengthen some muscles to reduce the strain.
I had inserts made for my shoes which where great although I didn't continue my prescription for them as I also have ADHD and I'm rubbish at doing important things like that.
The therapy helped a lot but I still have pain.
The tendon that runs from my heel to my foot just 'went' yesterday and I didn't even do anything to it!
It will take weeks maybe months to heal now.

I hope that info my be of use to someone
Avatar universal
I am a 42 yr old female.  And I also have swelling, tearing/ripping feeling in my ankles.  It started about a year ago in my right foot and my Dr thought I had torn a lig. so he put me in a air cast for 2 months.  It helped a little.  Now I have the same pain in both ankles.  Would realy love to know what this is.
Avatar universal
hey everyone...
just wanted to say.... i have the same  complaint as magnator it sounds like...
so went to the local gp and was told one of two things.....
1, diabetes ( getting checked as we speak)
2, damaged nerves from my spine around the lumber... ( mri scan needed through nuero)
hope this helps any one...
Avatar universal
Hi everyone.  I have the same exact symptoms.  Went to the doctor but doctor had no idea.  Mine started with my heels and where ever it affected it gets numb.  right now I have it on my rightside of the knee.  It starts out like something is tearing inside and burning when bend and pressed upon.  It's very surperficial, no actual joint pain.  if anybody out there knows what's going on please let me know.  I am just glad that other people are experiencing the same.  That way I don't feel like I am crazy.  
Avatar universal
I have had same symptoms in my right ankle, which took 3 years to heal.  Now it has happened to my right little finger joint, it looks fine but there's a burning pain when I touch it.  I wonder what it means.
Avatar universal
I have all these symptoms, however it is in my lower right front calf and when I walk somtimes it literallyfeels like I am tearing something then it burnes and then goes numb.  Havent went to the doctor yet because it doesnt happen all the time. when I tried to find out something it took me to something call DVT.  Which is a form of thrombosis which cause blood clots and it said to take some drug called levornex or something like that.  I dont think this is it either but I know this isnt in my head either, my husband says it is a lack of water but whatever, that isnt it either.  Also I am a 38 year old female.  
Avatar universal
I have been having this pain in my foot for about a month. On the outside of top of my right foot between the fourth and little toe. If I bend my foot wrong, I experience a sudden painful tearing-burning pain followed by numbness that lasts for a few minutes.

I was diagnosed in high school with chronic tendonitis w/ bursitis in both heels....that pain is not constant and is minimal discomfort 3 or 4. This new pain is at least an 8. I am concerned after reading other posts that this will spread to other joints and that a doctor will not be much help. I am a 38 yr old female and athletic.
Avatar universal
A possible source of our set of symptoms.  Burning, tearing, pulling...then numbness in non-symetrical fashion suggests to me Herpes Zoster, stage 3.   Stage 1 - chicken pox,  Stage 2 - Shingles,  Stage 3 - an assymetrical neuropathy w/ it's unique set of symptoms such as what we describe.

If I were a research scientist, I'd likely be running some clinical studies., But, alas. The question is, then, Has everone had chicken pox or shingles who is complaining of the symptoms?    CWE
Avatar universal
I to have the same problem.  Can anybody tell me if there is a Doctor in the house or doing the rounds or are we all in for a bit of self diagnosis.  Somebody must be able to provide an if, then, else as my Doctor is about 100 and I don't suppose he will have a clue where to start.
Avatar universal
Please let me know the results of your MRI. When kneeling to do some painting I experienced the tearing sensation below my knee.  It felt like I had cut myself or my skin was actually being torn.  This only occured while kneeling and the area felt somewhat numb to the touch the rest of the time.  Then a month later I felt the same tearing senstion on the back of my heel. This again only happened when my foot was extended or flexed a certain way.  And now a year later the same feeling on the opposite heel. I have had lower back problems most of my adult life, but have not had any real problems in the past year when these symptoms first appeared. Is it possible to have a pinched nerve on in my lower back and not experience back pain? I have noticed several people with these symptoms and many of them saying they were going to have an MRI, but have not seen anyone post the results. Please let me know. Thanks!
Avatar universal
Just found this thread via Google - fascinating!

I am 40, male, 188 pounds, run regularly (20 to 30 miles a week)

First pain was the kneeling knee variety.   Exactly as described above but now gone.

Currently enjoying symptoms in left heel and outside/top of left little toe -both when fully extended.  Doesn't hurt when I run, only when I stretch.

Physio hasn't a clue.  Haven't seen a doc.  
Avatar universal
It's good to find a discussion about this, but disappointing to read that many of you still don't know what it is!
In my case, the ripping, tingling pain is in my left hand around the knuckle of my index finger down to where the thumb begins. I feel it when I extend my arm straight out and any time I turn my wrist clockwise. It's especially bad when hooking a bra. Yikes! And the numbness never goes away. It's exactly like PSU Wayne described it: 50 percent numb.  Exactly like your chin feels an hour or so after the dentist injects novocaine into your lower gum.  
I've only had this for about a week and a half and feel discouraged by what you're hearing from your doctors . Seems like a mystery ailment. :(  that can't be diagnosed. But I'll bring it up with her at my upcoming appointment anyway.
Avatar universal
Wow, so glad to know I'm not alone!. With regard to the chicken pox thing, I had chicken pox at age 4. Around 3 years ago the tearing, burning, numbness thing started on the left side of my left knee and is still numb. In Feb 09 I got a very mild case of Shingles, left a scar on my forhead form the blisters. 3 months after that the tearing, burning, numbness thing started in both heels and last night an incredibly painfull episode started up in my right knee. I think you might be on to something.
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