Do your feet seem to go numb for no particular reason, leaving you mystified regarding what the cause could be? Numb toes can be a temporary sensation that lasts for a few moments or an ongoing issue resulting from a chronic condition. Chronic numb toes are typically a manifestation of a more serious medical issue. It is important to recognize the key causes, signs, and symptoms of numb toes so you can determine the best course to take for prevention and treatment.
WHAT CAUSES NUMBNESS IN YOUR TOES?
One of the first things anyone thinks of when considering numb toes is that unwelcome feeling you experience when sitting on your legs and feet too long. You rise to stand, and your feet feel strange and weightless beneath you.
This unpleasant sensation results from undue pressure put on your nerves that reduces blood flow temporarily. We often refer to this feeling as our feet “falling asleep”, while medical professionals term it as transient paresthesia. Positions, like sitting with crossed legs, sitting, kneeling, sitting on your feet, or wearing clothing on your legs and feet that is too tight, can all cause this temporary phenomenon.
Numb toes may also directly result from an injury. If you have injured parts of your body like your feet, ankles, legs, hips, spine, or torso, the excess weight put on your nerves may cause numbness.
If you have an ongoing back problem like a herniated disc, your spinal nerves will receive pressure that spreads downward to the legs and can cause numb toes. In a condition known as sciatica, when the sciatic nerve which extends from your lower back all the way to the legs is disturbed, you can easily experience that feeling of numbness in your toes.
If you have diabetes, you are vulnerable to experiencing nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy. With diabetic neuropathy, you will typically experience numbness in your toes, along with tingling and pain. The sensation may also extend to the legs.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Numb toes can also be caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition where the nerve that extends from the back of your leg to the inner portion of your ankle and down to your foot receives undue pressure, irritation, or injury. The tarsal tunnel itself is a very small nerve region in the ankle. Damage to this area typically causes reflective pain, tingling, burning, and numbness.
In some situations, a tumor, abscess, cyst, or benign cancer can cause numb toes. This is because these growths compress the spinal cord, brain, legs, or feet. As a result, they inhibit blood flow to your legs and feet, resulting in a numbing sensation.
Peripheral Artery Disease
In more serious circumstances, numbness in your toes is directly correlated with peripheral artery disease. This is a condition in which the arteries in your stomach, arms, and legs constrict, inhibiting proper blood flow.
In most cases, your legs will endure this reduction of blood flow, causing pain, aching cramps, and general discomfort in the hips and legs when moving. This can cause numbness and muscular weakness in the legs and in your toes.
If you are in the habit of consuming too much alcohol, the resulting toxicity to your body can cause harm to your nerves, particularly those in your feet. Too much alcohol depletes your body’s stores of Vitamin B1, B9, and B12, casting nerve damage and numbness.
If you recently experienced a stroke or even a mini-stroke, the resulting brain damage can cause numbness in your toes and other regions of the body. The numb toes could last temporarily or become an ongoing issue. When you have a stroke or mini-stroke, it interrupts nerve signals, which correlates directly with the numbness and the tingling sensation experienced.
If you have multiple sclerosis, it is normal to have nerve damage resulting in numbing sensations in certain areas of your body. The numbness rarely lasts for a long period, but it can reach into your limbs and extremities, causing numbness in your toes.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that can cause numb toes. The condition is typically associated with pain, aches, and overall sensitivity throughout the body, including the hands and feet. Along with numbness in your toes, you may also experience chronic fatigue, unexplained soreness or stiffness, issues with concentration and memory, and restless leg syndrome.
DIAGNOSIS: SYMPTOMS AND LENGTH OF NUMBNESS
Signs to Watch For
Whether the numbness in your toes is caused by a temporary or chronic condition, there are some key signs to watch for to discern what you have. If you are experiencing numbness in your toes and/or other parts of your feet and legs, you will probably feel some simultaneous and coinciding symptoms such as itching, burning, and tickling. You might also feel a tingling feeling or a strange crawling sensation beneath your skin.
Seeking Medical Advice
It is important to separate numb toes caused by a temporary situation from those which could result from a chronic or other serious medical condition. If your numb toes last for significant lengths of time and is not a result of a posture (like sitting on your legs and feet or wearing clothing that is too tight), seek medical advice at once.
Additionally, if you are experiencing other ongoing symptoms along with numbness in your toes or notice an alternation in the temperature, shape, or color of your feet or legs, book an appointment with your doctor immediately. Numbness in your toes may easily be a temporary issue, but if it is ongoing and does not let up after a period of days or weeks, there is almost certainly another medical condition at play.
3 WAYS TO TREAT AND PREVENT NUMB TOES
One of the first methods doctors use to treat numb toes is the use of certain medications. The medication depends on the cause of your numbness, however. Medications are typically prescribed for chronic and serious medical conditions. For instance, if you have fibromyalgia, your doctor could prescribe an antidepressant, like milnacipran or duloxetine, to treat the disorder and resulting numbness.
A number of corticosteroid medications have been shown to lessen inflammatory issues and the numbing caused by chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis. Other medications that could ease numb toes caused by conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or diabetic neuropathy, include pregabalin and gabapentin. If you have any of these medical conditions, speak with your doctor to determine the right medication for you.
Treat at Home
For more temporary causes of numb toes and to help ease symptoms of chronic conditions, there are a number of remedies you can incorporate into your schedule at home. If nerve compression is causing your numb toes, make sure you get plenty of rest to take the weight off a particular limb or region.
Applying ice or heat to the area can lessen swelling caused by nerve compression. Use heat with care, however, as too much of it can irritate and induce further inflammation. A simple massage of your legs and feet can induce better blood flow and ease your numbness. Make sure you are getting sufficient exercise to strengthen your heart and blood vessels, enabling them to enjoy proper blood flow. Exercise choices like Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates are all great ways to stimulate blood flow and lessen inflammatory problems.
If an injury caused your numb toes, wearing a brace or special medical footwear until the area heals can lessen nerve compression and ease your distress. If you're experiencing a lack of circulation, bathing your feet in Epsom salt is an easy home remedy to try.
If you suffer from a condition like multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, engaging in methods to calm your body and reduce stress can help to alleviate your symptoms. Meditation and similar techniques can calm your body down, lowering your stress levels, thus enabling your nervous system to achieve better functioning.
It might surprise you how many chronic issues causing numb toes might improve with better sleep. If you have a chronic condition resulting in numbing in your extremities, make sure you are getting enough sleep at night to rest and heal your body. Along the same lines, an unhealthy diet can significantly undermine your overall health and worsen chronic conditions.
Pay attention to what you are putting in your body, and make sure you are getting sufficient vitamins and nutrients in your food and supplementation regimen. If you have a chronic condition accompanied by ongoing numbness and pain, it might be wise to cut out all alcohol consumption that can increase your nerve damage and spread toxicity throughout your body.
Consider Alternative Medicine
If you are tired of experiencing numb toes, you might wish to consider alternative medicine for therapy options to ease your condition. Choices like reflexology, a massage, biofeedback, and acupuncture may be very effective. A few other alternative therapies include hydrotherapy, guided imagery, meditation, mindfulness, and the administration of Vitamin B supplements, particularly B3, B6, and B12.
If you are experiencing numb toes, take a moment to consider whether your posture or a particular type of clothing might have caused the sensation. If your numbness does not let up within a short period and turns into an ongoing issue, there is likely a more serious medical condition that needs to be addressed. Speak with your doctor regarding questions or concerns so you can pinpoint any underlying chronic issues and deal with them right away.