Definition

Numbness of the foot or feet is an abnormal sensation caused by an alteration in sensory nerve function in the foot.

Alternative Names

Numb foot, numbness in feet, tingling feet, parasthesia of feet.

Synopsis

Sensations are carried from the extremities of the body to the brain via neurons in the spinal cord. If the blood supply to the nerves is decreased, it can produce the feeling that "my foot fell asleep". If the blood loss is permanent or severe, it is called ischemia and can result in permanent nerve damage. Nerves in the fingers feet can be damaged when the blood supply is decreased over time, as in diabetes.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Trauma
  • Frostbite
  • Beriberi
  • Diabetic nerve damage
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Snake bites
  • Neuralgias
  • Rabies
  • Radiculopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Toxin exposure or poisoning
  • Stroke
  • Necrotizing vasculitis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Malnutrition

Diagnosis and Treatments

If foot numbness is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness and pain, it requires thorough evaluation by a physician. A complete history and physical, including family history, work history, laboratory tests may be indicated. Nerve conduction velocity tests, electromyography, imaging studies and nerve biopsy may be required. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and relieving symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressant medications (such as amitriptyline and Effexor may used.) Physical and occupational therapy as well as stretching exercises may help alleviate symptoms once the underlying cause is found and treated.