Numbness in the feet tends to be something that many people push off, and often overlook as a problem.  Numbness in your feet is not normal. Sometimes this can be simple and easy to fix, and other times it can be much more complex. It is not something that usually fixes itself. If there is numbness, it’s a sign that something needs to be changed.  Your Canadian Certified Pedorthist can help you find solutions to this problem!

What Causes Numbness?

While there can be many causes of numbness in the foot, the most common cause tends to be high pressure areas. This can create pressure points and even impinge nerves or reduce blood flow. In some cases, these can be isolated areas of your foot, including toes, forefoot, heels or even just small regions of skin. Other times, it could be your entire foot experiencing numbness. Your Pedorthist will evaluate your foot structure, range of motion, and well as your gait pattern. This can help identify any structural or movement patterns that could be causing an issue. They will also consider your activity levels and type, as well as evaluate if your footwear is appropriate for you and what you’re doing.

Numbness can also be caused by damage to nerves, potentially even causing neuropathic pain. This can be because of certain health conditions or medical treatments. Other times, it can be as a result of a previously preformed surgery. Because of the complexity of the network of nerves that run through the body, even back injuries can cause numbness.

How Can it be Treated?

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Insoles: Re-distributing pressure, or controlling excessive movement patterns can help to relieve pressure points on the feet and impinged nerves. OTC insoles are generic ‘one-size fits most’ options that can be a simple solution.
  • Custom-Made Orthotics: This custom device is made from a 3-dimensional volumetric cast of your feet, to specifically address the cause of YOUR discomforts. They will often create an even distribution of pressure, off-load necessary areas and add cushion/shock absorption as needed. This can help any structural of movement-based patterns contributing to impinged nerves or pressure points. This custom product can be adjusted to ensure you feel the best you can.
  • Footwear: A proper fitting shoe can go a long way. If the shoe itself is too small or ill fitting, it can be the cause of numbness. Changing into a proper fitting shoe or a different style with the right features can make all the difference. The proper shoe is like having a good foundation for a house; an orthotic or insole won’t have the same success if the shoe is working against it. Sometimes, this can mean switching from barefoot to a shoe you already have. Barefoot standing and walking can put a lot of stress on the feet.
  • External Referral: In some cases, your Pedorthist will notices imbalances or note other injuries that are out of their scope of practice. In this case, your Pedorthist may refer you back to your primary health care provider for further investigation, or to another health care provider for different treatment option. Sometimes, the addition of physiotherapy, massage therapy or chiropractic treatment can help. 

Booking an appointment with your Canadian Certified Pedorthist

Be prepared to answer some questions about what you’re experiencing. There are a few key things they’ll want to know to help identify probable causes and treatments. Thinking about these in advance really helps the process.

  • How would you describe the numbness? i.e.  A lack of feeling or pins/needles?
  • What part of your foot is experiencing the numbness? i.e. Toes, heel, bottom of foot.
  • How long have you been experiencing the numbness? And were there any major lifestyle changes around that time?
  • When do you notice the numbness flare up? i.e. Is it constant, only certain activities or times of day?
  • What type of footwear are you wearing most often and when you experience the numbness?
  • Do you have (or a history of) any significant medical conditions?
  • Do you have a history of injuries or surgeries in the lower limbs or back?

Standing, walking, running and moving should feel good! Don’t underestimate the significance of the discomfort you’re feeling, or the potential to relieve it with proper treatment!

To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist near you, visit

By Canadian Certified Pedorthist Katherine Hall