What causes toe numbness? 27 possible conditions

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Definition

Toe numbness is an abnormal sensation caused by an alteration in sensory nerve function in the toes.

Alternative Names

Numb toes, numbness in toes, numbness of toes, tingling toes, parasthesia of toes.

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 toe fell asleep". If the blood loss is permanent or severe, it is called ischemia and can result in permanent nerve damage. Nerves in the toes or feet can be damaged when the blood supply is decreased over time, as in diabetes. Poorly fitted shoes or walking in an unusual gait may cause toe numbness. Numbness in a toe may represent a nerve problem higher up in the nerve pathway, including the spinal cord.

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 toe 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 what is determined to relieve symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy as well as stretching exercises may help alleviate symptoms once the underlying cause is found and treated.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when nerves malfunction because they're damaged or destroyed. You'll notice a tingling, numbness, or weakness, and possibly sweating, constipation, or diarrhea.

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2

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal column narrows, gradually compressing the spinal cord. If the narrowing is minimal, symptoms won't occur. Too much narrowing can compress the nerves and cause problems.

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3

Stroke Overview

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A stroke (a "brain attack") is a medical emergency in which part of the brain is deprived of oxygen. This occurs when an artery that supplies oxygenated blood to the brain becomes damaged and brain cells begin to die.

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4

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

An intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when blood suddenly bursts into brain tissue, causing damage to the brain, which may present symptoms similar to that of a stroke. Lobar intracerebral hemorrhages occur in th...

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5

Mononeuropathy

Mononeuropathy is a pathological effect of a single large nerve. It can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiency, or autoimmune condition. Common symptoms are numbness, tingling, or burning.

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6

Slipped (Herniated) Disk

The vertebrae in your spine are cushioned by disks composed of a hard outer ring with a gelatinous material inside. Injury or weakness can cause the inner portion of the disk to break through the outer portion.

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7

Beriberi

Beriberi is caused by a vitamin B-1 (thiamine) deficiency. It's rare in areas that have access to nutritious food sources, but some diseases (ex. liver disease) and conditions (ex. prolonged diarrhea) can lead to it.

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8

Multiple Sclerosis Overview

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. MS can cause varying symptoms that appear with a wide range of severity, from mild discomfort to complete disability.

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9

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of types 1 and 2 diabetes due to uncontrolled high blood sugar levels that result in damage to the nerves. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), between 6...

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10

Hypoparathyroidism

Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands in the neck don't produce enough hormone (PTH). Too little PTH causes low calcium and high phosphorus levels in the body. Many of its symptoms concern low calciu...

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11

Vertebrobasilar Circulatory Disorders

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

An intricate web of blood vessels supply the brain with oxygen and vital nutrients. A group of arteries known as the vertebrobasilar arteries feeds the back (posterior) of the brain. Vertebrobasilar arteries ar...

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12

Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia is a weakening of the bones due to problems with bone formation or the bone building process. It is not the same as osteoporosis, which is a weakening of living bone that has already been formed and i...

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13

Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy refers to disease of the spinal nerve roots. Radiculopathy produces pain , numbness, or weakness radiating from the spine.

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14

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular diseases (PVDs) are circulation disorders that affect blood vessels outside of the heart and brain. PVD typically strikes the veins and arteries that supply the arms, legs, and organs located belo...

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15

Megaloblastic Anemia

Megaloblastic anemia is a blood disorder marked by the appearance of very large red blood cells. Anemia is a blood disorder that results in the loss of red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen through the body...

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16

Necrotizing Vasculitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Necrotizing vasculitis is the inflammation of blood vessel walls, typically small and medium-sized vessels. This inflammation can interrupt normal blood flow, resulting in damage to skin and muscle including necrosis ...

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17

Leprosy

Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection. It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract. It is caused by the bacteria Mycobacteriu...

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18

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare but serious autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells of the peripheral nervous system. This leads to weakness, numbness, and tingling, and ca...

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19

Frostbite

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Frostbite occurs when the skin is exposed to extreme or prolonged cold. The skin freezes, as do tissues beneath the surface of the skin. In extreme cases, muscle, nerves, and blood vessels may also freeze. Skin ma...

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20

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when a person's neck is whipped backward and then forward very suddenly. This injury is most common following a rear-end car collision. It can also result from physical abuse, sports injuries, o...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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