To navigate on changing terrain and pull away from hot surfaces, your feet need to feel touch. However, numbness or tingling in the foot may indicate that you are experiencing little to no sensation.
It could be temporary or a sign of diabetes. It can also become more severe over time. It is possible to feel numbness in your feet at first. As time passes, you may lose more sensation. You may be able to slow down or even reverse the progression of numbness in your feet by seeking medical advice.
What symptoms can you expect from numbness in the foot?
Numbness in the foot is caused by a loss of sensation. Because your feet are not in contact with the ground, this can affect your senses of balance and touch.
Sensation loss is the most common symptom of numbness. However, there are other, more unusual sensations. These sensations include:
- pins-and-needles sensation
- Foot or feet that feel weak
These symptoms may help your doctor determine the cause of your numbness.
What causes numbness of your foot?
The nerves running through your body are a complex network. They travel from your fingers and toes to your brain. You may feel numbness in the foot if there is damage to, an infection, blockage or compression of a nerve.
There are several medical conditions that can cause numbness to your feet, including:
After prolonged periods of sitting, you may feel numbness in the foot. This is often called “going into sleep” and it occurs when nerves leading to your feet are compressed during sitting. Your foot might feel numb when you stand until blood flow returns. Usually, a pins-and needles feeling will follow before blood flow and sensation return to the foot.
How do I get medical attention for numbness or tingling in my foot?
A sudden, severe numbness in the foot or other symptoms such as difficulty breathing can indicate a serious problem. If you feel the following symptoms in your foot, as well as numbness, seek immediate medical attention.
- Talking is difficult
- Loss of bladder, bowel control
- Numbness that starts in minutes or hours
- Multiple parts of the body feel numb
- After sustaining a head injury, numbness occurs.
- Severe headaches
- Trouble breathing
Although not always an emergency, the combination of these symptoms and foot numbness can be a sign that you have:
- transient ischemic attacks (also called TIA or “mini stroke”)
If your feet numbness is causing you to slip or trip, make an appointment with your doctor. If the numbness is getting worse, you should also visit your doctor.
For foot numbness due to diabetes, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Foot numbness can be caused by diabetes.
What is the best way to diagnose numbness in your feet?
The severity of your symptoms will determine the diagnosis of foot numbness. If you have stroke-like symptoms, a doctor might order a CT scan. A doctor can view your brain to identify any bleeding or blockages that may be causing your symptoms.
Your doctor may also ask you for your medical history and a description about your symptoms. Some questions may include:
- How long can the numbness go on?
- What other symptoms are you experiencing in addition to the numbness and tingling?
- What was the first time you felt numbness in your feet?
- Is numbness worse than apathy?
- What is the secret to numbness?
A physical exam usually follows after you have shared your medical history with your doctor. Most likely, your doctor will examine your feet to determine if sensation loss has affected one or both of your feet. Your doctor might order the following tests:
- Electromyography measures the muscle response to electrical stimulation.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Study to see abnormalities in the spine or spinal cord.
- Nerve conduction studies are used to measure the conductivity of electric currents in nerves.
The suspected diagnosis may require additional tests.
How can you treat numbness in the foot?
Numbness in your feet is a common sign of imbalance. It can also increase your chance of falling. A balance program can be developed with the help of a physical therapist. This will reduce your chance of falling.
Moving and doing exercises that aren’t painful for your feet can help improve blood flow to the nerves. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about creating an exercise program that suits you.
It is important to treat numbness in the feet. The lack of sensation in your feet can lead to foot injuries, trips, and falls. If you are unable to feel the foot, you may not know that there is a cut or injury. If you have reduced circulation, your wound might not heal as quickly.
The root cause of the numbness in your feet may be treated.
If you experience chronic numbness in the foot, your doctor may recommend that you see a podiatrist at minimum once a year. These are some things to remember:
- Regularly inspect your feet for any cuts or injuries.
- Place a mirror on the ground so that you can better see your soles
- To minimize the risk of foot injuries, wear shoes that are well-fitting and comfortable.
These precautions can help to minimize other problems that may be caused by foot numbness.