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Foot Numbness Symptoms

What did you feel when you took that last step? If you didn't feel anything, you're probably not levitating, and you may have a case of foot numbness. A side from being disorienting and uncomfortable, foot numbness can be a sign of significant health issues.

While the foot in itself is certainly prone to injury, foot numbness is often accompanied by other symptoms of the feet, legs, and body. Given the diverse list of potential causes, foot numbness symptoms can easily be a one-time event. Regardless, the loss of sensation in any part of the body, including the foot, is not normal and foot numbness symptoms should be monitored.

Foot numbness symptoms include:

The bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the foot work in concert to help give us mobility and are strongly linked to the rest of the body. Foot numbness is often not simply a localized issue with the foot, but tied to a larger issue of the body.

The symptoms surrounding foot numbness are just a piece of a larger puzzle that, once solved, may reveal a larger underlying issue. Several medical issues express themselves through foot numbness.

Foot Numbness Causes Overview

The foot withstands its fair share of bumps and bruises, but a traumatic event is only one of several potential causes of foot numbness. Numbness in the foot may not even be the result of an issue with the foot itself and could be caused by an issue found throughout the body or from trauma to a part of the leg.

Environmental foot numbness causes:

  • Trauma: Injuries in the form of strains or breaks to the knee or shinbone can translate to numbness in the foot.
  • Nerve Damage: Compressing the nerves in the foot can lead to a variety of unpleasant sensations, including numbness. Participating in athletics or exercising and wearing ill-fitting shoes are examples of activities that can put undue stress on and compress the nerves of the foot. Direct damage to nerves like the peroneal nerve can result in a similar outcome.
  • Vitamin Imbalance: The body requires adequate amounts of certain vitamins to function properly. Deficiencies in vitamins like B12 can lead to foot numbness symptoms.

Disease-related foot numbness causes:

  • Metabolic: Chemical reactions in the body are disrupted by metabolic disorders like diabetes and fibromyalgia, potentially causing nerve disorders and numbness.
  • Autoimmune: Inflammatory diseases attack various parts of the body resulting in a variety of ailments including numbness. Celiac disease and Multiple Sclerosis are examples of such diseases.

10 Potential Foot Numbness Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.

    Fibromyalgia is generally a lifelong condition

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Morton Neuroma

    Morton neuroma is nerve damage between the 2nd and 3rd toes, often found in women who run or wear tight high heels.

    Almost all patients do well with conservative (non-surgical) treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot numbness, pain in the sole of the foot, pain when touching the foot, pain in both feet, foot injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Fibular Stress Fracture

    The fibula is the smaller shin bone which lies on the outer part of the lower leg. With excessive, repeated stress, a small fracture (called a stress fracture) can occur.

    4-12 weeks with rest

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot numbness, pain in the outside of the knee, lower leg numbness, shin pain, pain in one shin
    Symptoms that always occur with fibular stress fracture:
    pain in the outside of the shin, pain in one shin
    Symptoms that never occur with fibular stress fracture:
    pain in both feet, pain in one foot, pain in the inside of the shin, swelling in both shins
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Severe Frostbite of the Lower Limbs

    Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

    It takes 1-3 months to assess the damage, at which time, surgery might be needed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot pain, swollen foot, foot numbness, foot redness, limping
    Symptoms that always occur with severe frostbite of the lower limbs:
    cold toe
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  5. 5.Mild Frostbite of the Lower Leg

    Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

    It takes 1-3 months to assess the damage, at which time, surgery might be needed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot pain, swollen foot, foot numbness, limping, foot redness
    Symptoms that always occur with mild frostbite of the lower leg:
    cold toe
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

    Foot Numbness Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having foot numbness.

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  6. 6.Frostnip of the Lower Limbs

    Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.

    As long as you are able to get to a place to re-warm, the damage should be reversible.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot pain, swollen foot, foot numbness, limping, foot redness
    Symptoms that always occur with frostnip of the lower limbs:
    cold toe
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  7. 7.Pes Cavus

    Pes cavus is a high arch of the foot that does not flatten with weight bearing. This foot type can cause pain.

    Without surgical intervention, this condition is permanent.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, foot numbness, high-arched feet, cold feet, leg weakness
    Symptoms that always occur with pes cavus:
    high-arched feet
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Multiple Sclerosis (Ms)

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is involved in carrying nerve signals so this damage causes interruptions in nerve signaling.

    This is a lifelong condition; however, treatment may be beneficial.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    severe fatigue, constipation, numbness, decreased sex drive, signs of optic neuritis
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Compartment Syndrome

    Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

    Prognosis is highly variable after surgery and depends on how rapidly you are treated.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    arm numbness, hand numbness, foot numbness, pain in one leg, thigh numbness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  10. 10.Diabetic Neuropathy

    Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where pain, numbness, weakness, and motor loss occur in the limbs due to the effects of diabetes on the nerves.

    Symptoms can last a lifetime.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, depressed mood, trouble sleeping, diarrhea, fatigue
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Foot Numbness Treatments and Relief

Ultimately, foot numbness is not normal and should not be ignored. Fortunately, there are several options for treatment, but, with such a wide range of causes, treatments can vary greatly. There is no "one size fits all" treatment, but relief is often available through a variety of measures.

Home remedies may be appropriate, but it is important to contact your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Significant trauma to the leg, knee, or foot
  • Ongoing or recurring numbness
  • If you know you have diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia

If the foot numbness symptoms seem to be related to a particular event that is minor and easily identifiable, then taking steps at home to minimize the issue may be sufficient. If, however, the foot numbness is unexplainable or associated with other symptoms, then advanced treatments may be required.

At-home foot numbness treatments:

  • Rest, elevation, and ice: Simple, at-home steps like these can help relieve numbness from isolated, minor incidents. Wearing appropriate footwear and minimizing athletic activity can also help reduce foot numbness symptoms.
  • Medicines such as NSAIDs or steroids can reduce inflammation and help minimize numbness.
  • Maintaining a proper diet is a critical step to ensure appropriate vitamin intake. Adhering to a gluten-free diet will help control the effects of Celiac disease.

Professional foot numbness treatments:

  • Physical therapy: Working with a qualified specialist can help prevent further nerve damage and reduce numbness. Low impact exercise such as swimming is often recommended.
  • Surgical procedures: Operative procedures may be required for significant trauma to the knee, shin, or foot.

Even if your foot numbness symptoms appear to dissipate on their own, it is important to remember that they happen for a reason. Maybe the cure is simply avoiding the tight shoes you wore last night, but more complex conditions could be influencing your foot numbness, so it is important to seek help from a medical professional if necessary.

FAQs About Foot Numbness

Here are some frequently asked questions about foot numbness.

Can sciatica cause numbness in the feet?

The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and extends through the leg to the foot. Damage to the sciatic nerve, either through trauma or extended pressure from body positioning, can result in sciatica and a numbing sensation in the foot. Treatments will likely be designed to improve mobility and limit stress.

Is my diabetes causing foot numbness?

Diabetes affects the body in a variety of ways and can trigger several nerve disorders. As time with the disease extends or with poor sugar (glycemic) control, nerve damage throughout the body can develop, causing neuropathy, and leads to numbing of the foot. Nerve disorders may result in no symptoms at all or affect any of the extremities or organ systems.

What causes numbness on the top of the foot?

The likely culprit is nerve damage. When the peroneal nerve, which is a branch of the sciatic nerve, is damaged, the foot can feel numb or tingly. Damage is commonly caused by trauma to the leg or knee or from poor body positioning such as crossing the legs or sleep positions that put pressure on the knee.

How do you improve circulation in your feet?

There are several at-home steps that can help improve circulation. Elevating and stretching the foot are two easily followed options. Improving overall health by stopping smoking, performing low impact exercise (such as swimming) and maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and cholesterol can also help.

Why do my feet suddenly go numb?

Sudden foot numbness is often caused by compression of the nerves or poor circulation. Wearing ill-fitting shoes, for example, can put strain on the joints and nerves of the foot. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, damage nerves as well. Crossing your legs and other body positions that limit blood flow lead to numbness.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Foot Numbness

  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric issue, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder?
  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.While lying down on a firm surface, keep both legs straight. Have a friend slowly raise one leg at a time by lifting your ankle into the air. Do you have pain in that leg before fully raising it to a perpendicular position? (This is called the straight leg test.)

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our foot numbness symptom checker to find out more.

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Foot Numbness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced foot numbness have also experienced:

    • 4% Hand Numbness
    • 4% Lower Leg Numbness
    • 3% Lower Back Pain
  • People who have experienced foot numbness had symptoms persist for:

    • 39% Less Than a Day
    • 26% Over a Month
    • 19% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced foot numbness were most often matched with:

    • 34% Morton Neuroma
    • 6% Fibromyalgia
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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