Something as simple as tight shoes could cause foot numbness that comes and goes. However, this uncomfortable problem is more likely a health condition requiring medical care.
Most causes of foot numbness (including tight shoes) share one thing in common: pinched or damaged nerves (neuropathy). Neuropathy that affects your feet may originate in your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) or peripheral nervous system (all the nerves throughout your body).
At Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center, Henry Horrilleno, MD, and Alma Horrilleno, MD, are experts in peripheral neuropathy and offer advanced treatments that support nerve healing and ease your symptoms, including foot pain, tingling, and numbness.
To help you better understand foot numbness, we put together this list of the top causes, including several unrelated to peripheral neuropathy.
Conditions other than peripheral neuropathy
You should always address foot numbness because it can signal health problems that lead to serious complications. Two causes of foot numbness other than peripheral neuropathy include:
Peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is one cause unrelated to nerve damage. This condition develops when cholesterol accumulates in a leg artery. As the cholesterol plaque enlarges and hardens (a condition called atherosclerosis), it restricts blood flowing through the vessel.
PAD causes leg pain and foot numbness when the plaque prevents a significant amount of blood from reaching the tissues. PAD can lead to non-healing leg ulcers, tissue death, and gangrene.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) develops when nerves in your central nervous system are damaged. As a result, your brain can’t communicate with your peripheral nerves. Though MS causes a wide range of symptoms, one of the most common is a numbness that often comes and goes in your hands, arms, legs, and feet.
Peripheral neuropathy and foot numbness
Peripheral neuropathy is the most likely reason for your foot numbness. Problems in your feet develop when the peripheral nerves running from your spine down through your legs and feet suffer damage or irritation.
Various health conditions can damage your peripheral nerves, resulting in foot symptoms like pain, pins-and-needles sensations, and loss of sensation (numbness). For example, a vitamin B12 deficiency, kidney disease, and autoimmune diseases can all cause peripheral neuropathy.
Some of the nerve conditions responsible for foot numbness go by different names. No matter the name, they’re all a type of peripheral neuropathy. Here are a few examples:
Diabetes is by far the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. When your blood sugar stays above the healthy range, it damages the peripheral nerves, beginning with the nerves in your feet. You may experience foot pain and tingling before the nerve damage progresses to cause numbness.
The sciatic nerves leave your spinal cord, travel through your buttocks, and go down both legs and into your feet. When one of the nerves gets pinched at the spine, you experience the classic symptoms of sciatica: sudden, severe pain shooting down one leg. As the nerve damage progresses, you develop muscle weakness and numbness in your leg and foot.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
This condition is similar to carpal tunnel but affects the tibial nerve — a nerve branching off the sciatic nerve that runs through the tarsal tunnel in your ankle and into your foot. If the nerve gets pinched in the tarsal tunnel, you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, which causes foot numbness.
Peroneal nerve injury
Like the tibial nerve, the peroneal nerve branches from the sciatic nerve to control muscles that lift your foot and provide sensation to the top of the foot. When peripheral neuropathy affects this nerve, you have numbness and foot drop (difficulty lifting the front of your foot).
Help is available for peripheral neuropathy
We offer comprehensive care for peripheral neuropathy, from diagnosing the cause of your neuropathy to providing a clinically proven protocol that relieves your symptoms by promoting nerve regeneration.
If you need help with foot numbness, call Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center today or request an appointment through online booking for a consultation at our Plano, Texas office.