Read below about toe numbness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your toe numbness from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Toe Numbness Symptoms

Loss of sensation in a body part is often referred to as numbness. Many people have experienced this sensation upon falling asleep for too long on a crooked arm or typing for too long on a keyboard. However, symptoms of toe numbness are not as common an occurrence and can be worrisome. Furthermore, the toe numbness may be associated with other symptoms that may feel strange.

For example, symptoms you may also experience that accompany your toe numbness symptoms include:

  • Burning or tingling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Lack of coordination or falling
  • Coldness or sensitivity to touch
  • Weak pulse in the legs or feet
  • Sores on the toes and feet that take long to heal

These toe numbness symptoms are often temporary, but unlike being able to find quick relief for symptoms such as hand numbness, toe numbness may be more difficult to resolve. As a result, it is important to follow up with your doctor and get appropriate care as soon as you notice toe numbness symptoms.

Toe Numbness Causes Overview

Toe numbness is the result of injury, compression or irritation of a nerve or a branch of one of the nerves in your foot and sometimes as high up as your leg. The foot is composed of many different nerves and small blood vessels that begin higher up in the leg and branch off in various directions to give blood flow and sensation throughout the foot. Because of this, causes that result in toe numbness are varied, but can be divided into the following categories.

Circulatory causes:

  • Conditions that cause narrowing of the blood vessels can reduce blood flow to the limbs and cause losses in sensation. The toes are especially susceptible because they are farthest from large vessels and may lose circulation first. Narrowing of the blood vessels is most often caused by plaque build-up in the vessels. This process is known as atherosclerosis.

Systemic disease causes:

  • Metabolic: Dysfunction in the processes that your body uses day-to-day, for example diabetes, can also affect both the way your nerves function and the diameter of your blood vessels. This causes numbness in the peripheral parts of the body, especially the toes and hands (this condition is known as peripheral neuropathy).
  • Hereditary: Some uncommon inherited disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can affect multiple nerves in the body and result in numbness in multiple parts of the body.

Environmental causes:

  • Toxins: Toxins that cause injury to the nerves include heavy metals such as lead and substances such as alcohol. Too much exposure to either can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness.
  • Vitamin Imbalance: There are certain vitamins that are essential to healthy nerve function such as vitamins E and B12. Deficiencies in these vitamins over time can lead to nerve damage and injury. Conversely, exposure to too much Vitamin B6 can cause numbness in the toe.
  • Trauma: Any situation where the foot or leg is crushed or damaged will result in toe numbness and nerve pain. However, trauma does not always need to be severe. Circumstances as simple as shoes that are too tight can also cause compressive trauma to the nerves of the feet and toes.

Inflammatory Causes

  • Autoimmune: Many inflammatory diseases that result in the body attacking itself can also affect the nerves and cause injury that results in numbness. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis and lupus are examples of such autoimmune diseases.
  • Infections: Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease and multiple viral infections such as shingles can cause inflammation and nerve injury that results in toe numbness symptoms.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Toe Numbness

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced toe numbness. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.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
  2. 2.Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy

    Nerve damage in the limbs can be caused by diabetes, toxic substances, immune system issues and low vitamin levels. However, in about one of every four cases no cause can be found and then the condition is called 'idiopathic'. Symptoms of nerve damage can be (burning) pain sensations, numbness, tingling and weakness in hands, feet or lower legs.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Low Calcium Level

    Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood, which helps the heart and other muscles function properly, and is needed to maintain strong teeth and bones.

    Problem should go away with home care within weeks.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Sciatica

    The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve of the human body, and it runs through the buttock, down the thigh and into the calf, sending information to the muscles in the back of the thigh and leg, as well as the surrounding skin. The sciatic nerve itself is supplied by nerves coming from the spine in the lower back. Sometimes, one of the disks separating the vertebrae (bones of the spine) may bulge out a little bit, putting pressure on one of these nerve roots, causing sciatica, or shooting pain down the sciatic nerve.

    Problem will resolve itself within several weeks in 80-90% of cases.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, numbness in one foot, pain in one leg, numbness in one thigh
    Symptoms that always occur with sciatica:
    back pain that shoots down the leg
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Toe Numbness Checker

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  5. 5.Folate (Vitamin) Deficiency

    Folic acid (folate) is a vitamin that is needed to make new cells in the body, including red blood cells which carry oxygen through the blood and into various tissues throughout the body. Folate deficiency refers to a condition when there is not enough folic acid in the body, and can lead to symptoms such as tiredness, low energy, faintness, and difficulty breathing.

    People recover with no long-term effects within weeks.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea
    Symptoms that never occur with folate (vitamin) deficiency:
    abdominal swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  6. 6.Foot Weakness

    Any foot weakness is a sign of nerve damage, which is very worrisome and requires you to go see a doctor immediately!

    MISSING

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    foot weakness, lower leg weakness, severe pelvis pain, hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there, arm weakness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  7. 7.Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

    The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space that lies on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a compression, or squeezing, on an important nerve called the posterior tibial nerve. This compression produces symptoms anywhere along the path of the nerve running from the inside of the ankle into the foot.

    Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a long-term condition that may need to be managed for months up to 1-2 years.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    tingling foot, pain in one foot, spontaneous foot pain, heel pain, pain in the top of the foot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.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
  9. 9.Lower Leg Weakness

    Any leg weakness is a sign of nerve damage, which is very worrisome and requires you to go see a doctor immediately!

    MISSING

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    lower leg weakness, foot weakness, arm weakness, loss of vision, severe pelvis pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Toe Numbness Treatments and Relief

If you experience frequent, persistent episodes of toe numbness, visit your doctor to find the exact cause of your condition in order to get appropriate treatment.

Depending on the cause, your doctor may first suggest other lifestyle modifications such as:

  • Balanced diet rich in essential vitamins to keep the nerves healthy: Fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins can provide your body with the nutrition necessary to maintain your nerves.

  • Regular exercise: Maintaining an optimal weight with exercise and a balanced diet can not only prevent, but also control metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

  • Medications to relax blood vessels: There are many different kinds of medication that can combat constriction in your blood vessels by dilating (relaxing) them and promoting circulation.

  • Anticonvulsants: Some anticonvulsant medications can also be used to combat nerve pain such as gabapentin (Neurontin).

  • Physical therapy: If your toe numbness is due to trauma that causes compression of the nerves and blood vessels leading to your toes, your doctor may suggest therapy to help take the pressure of these body parts, which also may improve your range of motion and posture.

  • Surgery: If other treatments are ineffective and your toe numbness symptoms continue to progress or worsen, your doctor may recommend looking into surgical options to combat your symptoms.

If you experience any symptoms of speech difficulty, facial drooping, or weakness to the point you cannot raise your foot or leg call 911 immediately. These could be signs of a stroke.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Toe Numbness

  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric issue, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder?
  • 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.)
  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.The foot numbness affects one foot or both feet?

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

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Toe Numbness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced toe numbness have also experienced:

    • 4% Big Toe Pain
    • 3% Lower Back Pain
    • 3% Tingling Foot
  • People who have experienced toe numbness had symptoms persist for:

    • 37% Less Than a Day
    • 27% Over a Month
    • 19% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced toe numbness were most often matched with:

    • 44% Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
    • 44% Low Calcium Level
    • 11% Morton Neuroma
  • 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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