Why do my feet feel numb and tingly?

Why are my legs and feet numb?

Share on PinterestCrossing the legs for a long time may cause numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.

Often, a person’s legs go numb temporarily because of their posture. However, chronic or long-lasting numbness in the feet and legs is almost always a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Conditions associated with feet and leg numbness include:

Posture

Postural habits that put pressure on nerves or reduce blood flow in the lower limbs are the most common cause of temporary numbness in the legs and feet. Many people say their leg has “fallen asleep,” and the medical term is transient (temporary) paresthesia.

Habits that can cause the feet and legs to fall asleep include:

  • crossing the legs for too long
  • sitting or kneeling for long periods
  • sitting on the feet
  • wearing pants, socks, or shoes that are too tight

Injury

Injuries to the torso, spine, hips, legs, ankles, and feet can put pressure on nerves and cause the feet and legs to go numb.

Diabetes

Some people with diabetes develop a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet, and if severe, the legs as well.

Lower back issues and sciatica

Problems in the lower back, such as a breakdown or herniation of spinal discs, can cause compression of the nerves going to the legs, leading to numbness or sensory disturbances.

Sciatica is the name for irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs. If this nerve becomes irritated or compressed, a person may experience numbness or tingling in their legs or feet.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when a nerve that runs down the back of the leg and along the inside of the ankle and into the foot is compressed, squeezed, or damaged.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space on the inside of the ankle. People with tarsal tunnel syndrome tend to feel numbness, burning, tingling, and shooting pain in their ankles, heels, and feet.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes the peripheral blood arteries in the legs, arms, and stomach to narrow, reducing the amount of blood they can pump and reducing blood flow. The legs are one of the most common parts of the body impacted by PAD.

Most people with PAD experience pain and cramping in their legs and hips when they are walking or going upstairs. Some people with PAD also experience leg numbness and weakness.

Symptoms of PAD typically go away after a few minutes of rest.

Tumors or other abnormal growths

Tumors, cysts, abscesses, and benign (non-cancerous) growths can put pressure on the brain, spinal cord, or any part of the legs and feet. This pressure can restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, causing numbness.

Alcohol use

The toxins in alcohol can cause nerve damage that is associated with numbness, especially in the feet.

Chronic or excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to nerve damage that causes numbness. This type of nerve damage is linked to reduced levels of B vitamins, such as B-1 (thiamine), B-9 (folate), and B-12, which is caused by excessive alcohol intake.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic or long-lasting condition that causes widespread body pain, aching, and tenderness. Some people with fibromyalgia also experience numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Most people with fibromyalgia experience a variety of symptoms including:

  • stiffness and soreness for no apparent reason, especially in the morning or after sleeping
  • chronic exhaustion
  • memory problems and difficulty thinking clearly, sometimes called fibro-fog
  • restless leg syndrome

Almost everyone with fibromyalgia experiences symptoms in more than one part of their body for at least 3 months at a time. If numbness in the legs and feet is not accompanied by any other symptoms or is not long-term, it is unlikely to be caused by fibromyalgia.

Multiple sclerosis

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience sensory nerve damage that can cause numbness in a small region of their body or whole limbs. Although numbness associated with MS often only lasts for a short period, it can last long enough to become disabling.

Stokes and mini-strokes

Strokes or mini-strokes can cause brain damage that may affect how the mind interprets and processes nerve signals. A stroke or mini-stroke can sometimes cause temporary or long-term numbness in parts of the body.

What causes my feet to suddenly become numb?

On call

Published: May, 2018

Q. My feet tingle or feel numb like they are asleep at times, mostly when I am in bed or with my legs elevated. What causes that?

A. The symptoms you describe may be related to peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage that affects multiple nerves leading out from the spinal cord to the arms and legs. Symptoms are often equal in both feet. If only one foot, or part of a foot, is affected, this suggests compression of an individual nerve.

Another possibility for foot tingling or numbness with leg elevation is poor circulation, but this is often accompanied by leg cramping while walking and color changes in the feet (pale or white when elevated, and red when lowered).

Check with your doctor, as peripheral neuropathy may be caused by many medical conditions, including diabetes, heavy alcohol consumption, and nutritional deficiencies. Certain medications, such as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, also can lead to neuropathy. Sometimes polyneuropathies are hereditary. About one in four cases have no clear explanation.

Your doctor may suspect neuropathy after doing a neurologic examination and determining that you have loss of feeling in your feet. If needed, the diagnosis can be confirmed with additional testing (nerve conduction velocity and electromyography). Your doctor will look for an underlying treatable cause for the neuropathy. Whether or not one is found, several medications are available that may help improve symptoms. They often can ease pain but may not alleviate the numbness or tingling.

— by William Kormos, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men’s Health Watch

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Don’t Ignore Numbness in Your Hands and Feet!

Don’t Ignore Numbness in Your Hands and Feet Gradual onset of numbness or tingling in the hands and feet often occurs among working-aged adults from repetitive and forceful activities, e.g. prolonged use of a computer keyboard and mouse. This symptom can have a wide variety of causes including poor nutrition (particularly vitamin B deficiency). But if the numbness and tingling feels worse and associated with pain, it may be a sign of peripheral neuropathy that should not be left untreated.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy and what causes it?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the condition that occurs when the peripheral nerves has become damaged. Peripheral nerves link the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body. They carry messages to communicate with the body’s muscles and organs. Damage to the peripheral nerves can affect internal organs, the movement control, and can also result in numbness, tingling, unusual sensation, and pain. Moreover, it can cause paralysis if a nerve is completely lacerated.

Factors that can cause peripheral neuropathy

  • Inflamatory neuropathy from abnormal immunity for e.g. GBS, CIDP.
  • Hereditary neuropathies or family history of neuropathy.
  • Certain infections causing nerves to become inflamed.
  • Diabetic people with poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
  • Prolonged pressure on a nerve or repetitive motions.
  • Chronic diseases, e.g. kidney failure, vitamin B12 deficiency, paraproteinemia.

When to see doctor

If numbness persists over 2-3 days and is not improving, lifestyle changes and exercise may help improve the symptoms. For those who are not improving after 1 week and numbness spreads to other parts of the body, it is better to consult the doctor for an evaluation.

The treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy

Treatment of numbness or tingling in the hands and feet depends on the underlying cause. For mild cases, the doctor may prescribe medicines to ease symptoms. If patients have neuropathy caused by pressure on the nerves, the doctor may recommend surgery to reduce the pressure.

However, not all numbness is indicative of a serious problem, but it is something you definitely should not ignore. It could be indicative of something more serious; because vitamin deficiency, diabetes, kidney failure, and nerve damage are among the medical causes of these symptoms.

What can cause toes to go numb?

Broken toe

A toe fracture, or a broken toe, can cause numbness or tingling. Broken toes often happen when a person has an accident, fall, or hits their toe on a hard object.

A person should see a doctor if they injure their toe and are experiencing numbness. A broken toe may require treatment to ensure the bone heals properly.

Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of tissue around one of the nerves in the ball of the foot. It can cause burning and numbness in the feet and toes. It may also feel like there is a pebble or other object under the foot.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons say 80% of people with Morton’s Neuroma can find relief with a combination of the following:

  • wearing wider, nontight shoes and avoiding high heels
  • using customized shoe inserts and pads that relieve pressure on the nerve
  • having steroid injections that reduce swelling and inflammation

People who participate in high impact sports, such as running, may find that taking a break can help relieve Morton’s neuroma. They may wish to try a low impact activity, such as swimming, to help the foot heal.

If the above do not bring relief, a doctor may recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve.

Diabetes

One of the complications of diabetes is a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy can happen when high blood sugar levels damage nerves, causing numbness and tingling in the toes and feet.

People who have diabetes should check their feet daily and work with their healthcare providers to keep blood sugar under control. They should also avoid going barefoot and wear properly fitting shoes.

Peripheral artery disease

PAD is also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or hardening of the arteries. It affects more than 10 million people in the United States, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.

PAD happens when deposits known as plaque buildup in the arteries. Plaque buildup reduces blood flow and can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the legs or feet. People may get PAD from high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels. Diabetes can also cause PAD.

Doctors usually recommend exercise, a more healthful diet, and not smoking to control PAD. In some cases, people may need medications or surgery.

Multiple sclerosis

MS is a chronic disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a disruption of signals to and from the brain.

MS causes several symptoms, including numbness and tingling, in various parts of the body. It can also cause difficulty with walking, vision problems, mental changes, and many other symptoms.

If a person thinks they may have symptoms of MS, they should see their doctor for the correct treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be a lifesaving treatment for cancer. It may cause side effects, including numbness and tingling in certain parts of the body.

People should speak with their healthcare provider about any side effects of chemotherapy.

Spinal cord injury

The spinal cord is responsible for sending nerve messages through the body. Spinal cord injuries could be caused by:

  • vehicle accidents
  • severe blows to the back or body
  • arthritis
  • cancer

A spinal cord injury can cause numbness in the toes or the inability to feel heat or touch. The damage may not always be obvious at first.

A person must see a doctor after any severe trauma to the head, neck, or back. If someone is involved in an accident and their brain or spinal cord may be hurt, it is essential not to try to move the individual and to call the emergency services.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

When a person does not get enough vitamin B-12, they may develop pernicious anemia. When this happens, the body is unable to make enough red blood cells.

Without enough red blood cells, a person may feel weak or tired. They may also have nerve problems, including numbness.

Doctors can treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B-12 injections.

Animal foods, including meat and dairy, contain vitamin B-12. Vegans may be at a higher risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency unless they manage their nutrient intake carefully.

Stroke

A stroke is an interruption in blood supply to the brain and is a life threatening emergency.

After a person has had a stroke, they may notice residual symptoms such as numbness or being unable to feel cold or pain. These symptoms may be a sign of nerve damage.

People may need rehabilitation after a stroke to help them regain normal activity and function.

Vasculitis

Vasculitis is an autoimmune disease. It happens when the immune system attacks healthy blood vessels. Several diseases and illnesses can cause vasculitis, including:

  • lupus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C

Because vasculitis can interfere with blood flow, it can cause numbness and tingling. Treatment depends on what is causing the condition.

Sometimes, treating the illness that caused vasculitis will help relieve symptoms. In other cases, doctors may prescribe steroids or other medicines to lower inflammation in the blood vessels.

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare illness when the immune system attacks the nerves in the body. Certain viruses and conditions can trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome, but the cause is often unknown.

One of the first symptoms of Guillain-Barre is numbness and tingling in the toes, fingers, wrists, or ankles. The numbness may start to spread and move up the body. It can also cause widespread weakness, difficulty speaking, and other coordination problems.

People who have symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome may need medical tests to get a diagnosis. They may require treatment in a hospital and rehabilitation afterward. When a person has symptoms of Guillain-Barre, immediate medical care is needed.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious condition with a mortality rate of between 3–7%. It can also lead to persistent weakness and disability over time. However, with intensive treatment, 70% of people who get Guillain-Barre will recover.

Toe Numbness

What is toe numbness?

Toe numbness is an abnormal condition in which you feel a loss of sensation in the toes. Toe numbness is usually due to a lack of blood supply to the toes or nerve damage. Toe numbness can also result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, and other abnormal processes. Most cases of toe numbness are not due to life-threatening disorders.

Toe numbness is often associated with or preceded by abnormal pain-like pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations called paresthesias. Whereas toe numbness is a loss of sensation, paralysis involves a loss of movement, with or without the loss of sensation in the area.

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Depending on the cause, the loss of sensation can disappear quickly, such as numbness after sitting for a long time that fades away once you start moving your legs. Chronic numbness in the toes generally indicates some level of damage to the nerves. Toe numbness may also be worse at night, which is common for paresthesias in general.

Because toe numbness may be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition, you should talk with your medical professional about any unusual sensations or toe numbness that last more than a few minutes.

If you experience toe numbness with loss of bladder or bowel control, paralysis, confusion, weakness in the foot, or slurred speech, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention in an emergency facility. If your foot numbness is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

What other symptoms might occur with toe numbness?

Toe numbness may occur with other symptoms as well. For example, toe numbness due to a broken toe will most likely be accompanied by severe pain and swelling. Nerve compression in the lumbar spine (lower back) will usually affect only one leg, with pain and numbness that may extend down to the toes.

Symptoms that may occur along with toe numbness

Toe numbness may occur with other symptoms including:

  • Anxiety
  • Burning feeling
  • Skin or toenail discoloration
  • Frequent urination
  • Itchiness
  • Increased toe numbness, tingling, or pain while walking
  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pins-and-needles (prickling) sensation
  • Rash
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Toe pain

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, toe numbness may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Get immediate help if you, or someone you are with, are exhibiting any of these life-threatening symptoms, including:

  • Confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of vision or changes in vision
  • Paralysis
  • Slurred speech
  • Toe numbness following a back injury
  • Weakness (loss of strength)

What causes toe numbness?

Toe numbness usually arises from a lack of blood supply to the toes or nerve damage. Toe numbness can be a sign of a wide variety of diseases, disorders or conditions that restrict blood flow or cause injury to the nerves. Temporary toe numbness can occur after prolonged pressure on a nerve or nerves such as after wearing tight-fitting shoes.

Toe numbness can occur with moderate to serious orthopedic and circulatory conditions, as well as disorders and diseases that damage the nervous system. Numbness in only one toe may indicate a neuroma (noncancerous growth of nerve tissue) or broken toe, whereas general toe numbness may be a sign of a more systemic disease such as diabetes.

In some cases, numbness is a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated as soon as possible in an emergency setting.

Circulatory causes of toe numbness

Toe numbness can be caused by lack of blood flow to an area due to such conditions as:

  • Arteriovenous malformation (tangled knot of arteries and veins)

  • Buerger’s disease (acute inflammation and clotting of arteries and veins)

  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg that can break loose from the leg causing a pulmonary embolism in the lung, a heart attack, or even stroke)

  • Frostbite or extremely cold temperatures

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, which is a narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol on the artery walls, which limits blood flow to the extremities)

Orthopedic causes of toe numbness

Toe numbness may also occur because of moderate to serious orthopedic conditions that injure or damage the nerves including:

  • Back injury

  • Broken toe

  • Degenerative disk disease

  • Herniated disk

  • Nerve entrapment or nerve pressure (such as from tight-fitting shoes)

  • Osteoporosis

  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Neurological causes of toe numbness

Toe numbness caused by nerve compression or damage may be due to such conditions as:

  • Alcoholism

  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes)

  • Heavy metal poisoning such as lead poisoning

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord)

  • Neuroma in the toe

  • Peripheral neuropathy (disorder of the peripheral nerves)

  • Spinal cord injury or tumor

  • Stroke

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (a disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)

  • Transverse myelitis (neurological disorder causing inflammation of the spinal cord)

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency (as in pernicious anemia)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of toe numbness

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will most likely ask you several questions related to your toe numbness including:

  • Where are you feeling numb and what toes are affected?

  • Is any part of your foot numb?

  • When did the numbness start?

  • How long does the numbness last?

  • Are there any activities that cause the numbness?

  • Are you experiencing other sensations, such as pain, burning or itchiness?

What are the potential complications of toe numbness?

Any complications associated with toe numbness can be progressive and vary depending on the underlying cause. Because toe numbness can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in complications and permanent damage. It is important to contact your health care provider when you experience any kind of persistent numbness or other unusual symptoms. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important to follow the treatment plan outlined by your health care provider to reduce your risk of potential complications related to toe numbness, such as:

  • Amputation

  • Disability

  • Inability to walk

  • Paralysis

  • Permanent loss of sensation

  • Permanent pain

9 Possible Numbness In The Top Of The Foot Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced numbness in the top of the foot. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Morton neuroma

Morton neuroma, also called by the older name Morton’s neuroma, is a thickening of fibrous tissue in the ball of the foot. This tissue encapsulates the nerve leading to the third and fourth toes. It is not actually a tumor of the nerve, as the name suggests.

The thickening is caused by years of trauma, irritation, and/or compression to the feet. High-heeled shoes, especially if narrow or tight, are a common cause. The condition is most often seen in women over age 45.

Symptoms include burning pain in the ball of the foot, especially with walking or running. The condition will not heal on its own and can lead to chronic foot pain.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination of the foot with simple range of motion exercises, and sometimes x-ray.

Treatment includes changing to better-fitting shoes that do not compress the nerve; using orthotics in the shoes to take more pressure off of the nerve; and in some cases the use of corticosteroid injections.

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

Sciatica

Sciatica is a general term describing any shooting pain that begins at the spine and travels down the leg.

The most common cause is a herniated or “slipped” disc in the lower spine. This means some of the cushioning material inside the disc has been forced outward, pressing on a nerve root. Bony irregularities…

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.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to the symptoms that result from compression of the posterior tibial nerve. The posterior tibial nerve provides sensation to the bottom of the foot and controls some of the muscles involved in foot structure and movement.

Symptoms of tarsa…

Numbness In The Top Of The Foot Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your numbness in the top of the foot

Compartment syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome describes the damage done to certain muscle groups of the arms or legs after a traumatic injury.

All of the long muscles are bundled into sections – “compartments” – by the white sheets of strong, tough connective tissue called fascia. If something interferes with circulation so that blood flow is trapped within the compartment, pressure rises because the fascia cannot stretch. This causes serious damage to the muscles and other tissues within the compartment.

Acute compartment syndrome is caused by a broken bone; a crush injury; burns, due to scarred and tightened skin; and bandages or casts applied before an injury has stopped swelling.

Symptoms can rapidly intensify. They include severe pain and tightness in the muscle; tingling or burning sensation; and sometimes numbness and weakness.

Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency which can result in loss of the limb. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination.

Treatment involves hospitalization for emergency surgery and, in some cases, skin graft.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: arm numbness, hand numbness, foot numbness, pain in one leg, thigh numbness

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack)

Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes called a “mini stroke” or a “warning stroke.” Any stroke means that blood flow somewhere in the brain has been blocked by a clot.

Risk factors include smoking, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, though anyone can experience a TIA.

Symptoms are “transient,” meaning they come and go within minutes because the clot dissolves or moves on its own. Stroke symptoms include weakness, numbness, and paralysis on one side of the face and/or body; slurred speech; abnormal vision; and sudden, severe headache.

A TIA does not cause permanent damage because it is over quickly. However, the patient must get treatment because a TIA is a warning that a more damaging stroke is likely to occur. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; CT scan or MRI; and electrocardiogram.

Treatment includes anticoagulant medication to prevent further clots. Surgery to clear some of the arteries may also be recommended.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck

Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack): bilateral weakness

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Chemotherapy-induced nerve damage

Chemotherapy has many effects on the body. Some types of chemotherapy can cause irritation of the nerves in ones hands and feet, resulting in symptoms like pain, numbness or tingling.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: muscle aches, distal numbness, pain in both hands, pain in both feet, numbness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by longstanding or poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (DM). Other risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy include obesity, smoking, cardiovascular disease, and abnormal lipid levels.

Diabetic neuropathy can present as a number …

Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.

The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.

Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet; difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity; and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.

Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination; blood tests to rule out other conditions; and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.

Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers; prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain; physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet; and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Top of Foot Ache and Numbness

“During running (or walking) the top of my foot aches and goes numb”.

The first, easiest thing to check is how tight you are tying your shoes! There is a nerve on the top of the foot called the dorsal cutaneous (see photo)

Dorsal Cutaneous Nerve of the Foot

that supplies sensation to your skin in this area. It can easily be pinched by having laces too tight, and sometimes from wearing sandals that bind too hard over the top of the foot. If your shoes fit properly, you should be able to keep laces in contact with foot and not have your foot slide around in the shoe. Custom orthotics or over the counter inserts can help create a more conforming foot bed to stabilize the foot if there is still an unstable situation with a proper fit.

Another cause may be a compartment syndrome or irritation of muscle compartments of the lower leg. You may notice tenderness to touch on the front and side of the shin. These muscles commonly become inflamed and overused with downhill running, fast walking, over-striding, or other training errors. The quickest and best solution is to get manual physical therapy treatment to mobilize tight fascia and connective tissue that may extend into the upper leg, lower leg, and especially into the foot. This can be another indication for trigger point dry needling to areas of the lower leg and top of foot for what is usually a rapid, lasting result.

Using “the stick” or roller over the muscles of the front of the lower leg (do the calf muscles while you are at it) and gentle active stretching can also help. In addition to our skilled mobilization of joints and connective tissue, you can gently massage and mobilize the areas of your lower leg, top of foot, and between your toes. We also emphasize strengthening of your push off mechanism usually by single leg calf raises with hands pushing upward against a wall with opposite leg flexed up as in a full stride.

If simply loosening your laces and getting more serious about stretching and self massage doesn’t resolve the issue, you should come in for an evaluation and treatment. There are other things that could be going on that we are trained to recognize and address.

Questions? Email us at [email protected] or give us a call (262-695-3057) if you would like to make an appointment or speak to a physical therapist.

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