Numbness is a lack of sensation in a body part. It can be a partial or a complete loss. Although loss of sensation is the main symptom of numbness in your foot, you may experience some additional, abnormal sensations. These include prickling or pins-and-needles sensation, tingling and weak-feeling feet

So what causes numbness in your feet? That is not quite as easy a question to answer because there are several causes. Some of them are simple and obvious. Others are not so simple:

  • It can be as simple as the foot going to sleep because you sat cross-legged. This is more likely to be temporary but others can be longer lasting ore even permanent!
  • It can also be caused by tight clothing, scars or swelling.
  • Obesity is also a cause. For obesity issues, work with doctor or dietitian to seek weight loss alternatives. If obesity is due to inactivity, a pedorthist can help you get more active with less pain.
  • High blood pressure can also accompany obesity and the two work to increase numbness in body parts.
  • Issues with blood vessels like peripheral vascular disease or vasculitis – an inflammation of the blood vessels can cause numbness as well.
  • Deficiencies of vitamins that are essential to nerve health and functioning are also a cause. The most common ones that can cause this are certain B vitamins and vitamin E.
  • Toxin accumulation can cause numbness as well. Alcoholism or chronic alcohol abuse with kidney disorders that cause high amount of toxins build up in the body and damage nerve tissue.
  • Nerve issues like disk herniation can be involved as well.
  • A low functioning thyroid can lead to fluid retention and increase pressure surrounding nerve tissues. Diseases that cause chronic inflammation and can spread to the nerves or damage connective tissue surrounding nerves.

One of the more common causes of numbness with pins and needles is Tarsal tunnel syndrome. It is a lot like Carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a compression of the posterior tibial nerve located along the inner part of the heel. It can produce symptoms that extend all the way from the ankle to the foot, including tingling and numbness anywhere in the foot.

Numbness can be brought on by other causes in the foot and leg:

  • Frostbite one of the causes in winter.
  • Tissue damage in such a condition can cause damage to the nerves locally. The same reason can involve Morton’s neuroma – scar tissue on the nerves between the toes.

Systemic diseases can cause numbness as well:

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a less common condition affecting muscled and nerve activity in the foot and leg.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome is a less common disorder affecting muscle strength and sensation.
  • Systemic diseases like multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, sciatica, shingles some cancers and some chemotherapy can cause it as well.

Numbness can also be the result of a chronic condition, like diabetes. The symptoms can also be progressive. You may begin to lose some sensation in your foot then slowly lose more and more feeling as time goes on.

Diabetes is serious, and if numbness in the toes and other foot problems related to the disease go unrecognized or untreated, it could lead to major complications, which could include an amputation. Have your doctor check your blood sugar level to see if diabetes might be the cause of the numbness in your toes.

Numbness can be also a sign of an emergency situation that you need to get to a hospital. If you see numbness show up suddenly with no warning, you need to be evaluated for spinal cord injury, seizures, strokes or transient ischemic attacks also known as TIA or “mini-stroke”. These are the symptoms of a stroke that appear intermittently and can resolve. Just because the symptoms resolve does not mean that nothing is going to happen. Often these are prodromal or harbingers of a real stroke going to take place shortly!

Seeking medical advice for numbness in your foot may help slow or delay its progress. Talk to your physician or Canadian Certified Pedorthist at the first signs of numbness. To find a pedorthist near you visit

By Canadian Certified Pedorthist Jim Pattison