What are the possible causes of numb toes and tingly feet?

September 12, 2022

man sitting on bed with numb feet

Have you ever had your feet in a certain position and then noticed that they suddenly feel numb or tingly? This sensation can be frightening, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it. For many, this sensation will disappear with movement, but for others, it can have a more prolonged or even chronic presence.

As a pain management clinic in Annapolis, Maryland, we have a team of medical providers, physical therapists, and chiropractors — all ready to help relieve any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing. When it comes to this “pins and needles” type feeling that some of our patients experience, we’re experts in providing targeted advice and treatment that can relieve your symptoms in no time.

For now, let’s try getting to the bottom of why you might be experiencing this sensation in the first place, and what your next steps should be.

First up, how do others describe this numb or tingly sensation?

We’ve worked in pain management for a long time and it’s always interesting to hear how different patients describe different sensations. Our team in Annapolis are well-versed in spotting common triggers of pain, so even the most obscure descriptions will work just fine!

For most people though, they describe numbness in their feet as feeling like:

  • Their foot has “fallen asleep”
  • A feeling of “pins and needles” when they try to walk
  • Cramping
  • A feeling of “walking on hot coals”
  • An inability to feel their foot making contact with the ground
  • Heightened sensitivity to temperature or even certain materials (e.g. blankets)

What is the actual medical term for this type of sensation?

The exact cause of your discomfort will need to be assessed by a physician, however, a numbness in your toes and/or feet often falls under the medical classification of Peripheral Neuropathy. At our pain management clinic in Annapolis, our doctors are highly trained in handling patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy. Regardless of your level of discomfort, the good news is that we’re almost always able to provide you with a treatment plan.

While certain terms can be given to specific sensations such as ‘pins and needles’ (paresthesia), peripheral neuropathy is a broader term that doctors will often use as a starting point for further investigation.

In general, peripheral neuropathy refers to the peripheral nervous system. This is a network of nerves that lie outside the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This set of nerves have their own functions, some of which include:

  • Sensory nerves (associated with sensations such as pain and touch)
  • Motor nerves (associated with controlling your muscles)
  • Autonomic nerves (associated with regulating certain functions of the body e.g., bladder function)

One of the main symptoms of peripheral neuropathy is numbness or tingling in the feet. This is why upon visiting our clinic right here in Maryland, our team will always start by asking you a series of questions to identify if peripheral neuropathy should be a main focus during their assessment.

What are the possible causes of these sensations in my feet?

Without a consultation, it’s difficult for us to offer targeted advice in terms of what might be causing a numbness or tingling in your feet. However, our highly experienced pain management doctors have been able to offer some insight into what the usual causes are for their patients.

For many patients, peripheral neuropathy can be temporary and might only cause mild annoyance for short periods of time. This level of discomfort can be caused by something as simple as an injury, or be a side effect of drinking too much alcohol.

For those who don’t move around a lot or who sit in the same position all day for work, this sensation can also be a reminder to not have your feet in the same position for too long. Where your body is concerned, consistent movement is good… and your feet are no different!

However, for those experiencing numbness or tingly at a chronic level, our pain management specialists note that some of the most common causes are:

  • Infections (especially viral infections such as shingles)
  • Nerve damage or physical trauma
  • Hereditary disorders
  • Vitamin deficiency or poor nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Systemic diseases (diseases that can affect the entire body)
  • Alcoholism
  • Autoimmune diseases

How worried should I be about numbness in my toes?

As mentioned above, there can be several reasons for your numb or tingling toes. That’s why it’s important to remember to not panic if you begin to experience this sensation. At Annapolis Pain Management, we’re firm believers in learning to trust your own body — so if something doesn’t seem quite right, it’s always best to have it checked out.

What is the best treatment for peripheral neuropathy?

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy will vary depending on the cause and severity of the discomfort. For those with underlying conditions, peripheral neuropathy can be more difficult to treat. However, all levels of pain and discomfort can be assessed and targeted at our pain management clinic in Annapolis, Maryland.

Once our pain management doctors are aware of where you’re experiencing your symptoms, and the level to which they’re affecting your daily life, we can put together a pain management plan to help you get back to the life you want to lead.

Some of our most common treatments for peripheral neuropathy include:

What are my next steps if I’m experiencing foot numbness or tingling?

If you’re experiencing foot numbness or tingling that’s impacting you in any way, it’s always best to speak with an expert. Even though for some patients, discomfort from peripheral neuropathy might not feel like an urgent reason to speak with a specialist, our advice is to always keep on top of your health. You can do this by arranging regular health checks and immediately investigating any pain or discomfort that arises.

At Annapolis Pain Management, we have a full team of medical providers, physical therapists, and chiropractors — all ready to help you minimize your pain and give you back the quality of life you deserve.

Our pain management clinic is based in Annapolis, Maryland, with full instructions on how to reach us available here. If you’d like to request an appointment, fill in our online form and a member of our team will get back to you.

We don’t just help manage your pain, we stop pain from holding you back!

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