Oftentimes pain in the feet can be throbbing or sharp in nature, but lack of feeling can be extremely bothersome as well. Numbness in the feet can be one of the first symptoms of something else going on in the lower extremities or body. Here we will discuss some of the common causes of numbness in the feet and how we treat it.
What is numbness in the Feet?
Numbness in the feet is referred to as neuropathy and is a syndrome affecting the nerves. Peripheral neuropathy is numbness that starts in the tips of the toes and can progress to the foot and up through the leg. Numbness is often one of many other symptoms of neuropathy, including tingling, burning, and shooting pains through the feet and/or toes.
Risk Factors for developing numbness in the feet
There are many reasons why you may be experiencing numbness in your feet. Risk factors for peripheral neuropathy include certain medical conditions such as diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, HIV, or chronic alcohol use. Even treatments for cancer including chemotherapy and radiation commonly have neuropathy as a side effect.
Another reason some people experience numbness in their feet is trauma to the foot or ankle. The nerves can be directly injured after a break or sprain and can also become entrapped even years after an injury due to scar tissue and inflammation. An irritated nerve can form a growth around it called a neuroma. This is commonly found in the forefoot and causes numbness and shooting into affected toes.
Treatment of numbness in the feet focuses on treating the cause of the problem. If numbness is caused by conditions such as diabetes, there are prescription medications used to calm the irritated nerves so the symptoms are less severe. Supplements can also help ease the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. These medications, such as neurontin or pregabalin, can be used to treat numbness and nerve pain caused by other ailments as well. With diabetic neuropathy, prevention is the greatest treatment because the nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels often cannot be reversed. If a nerve is entrapped or being compressed by another structure in the foot or ankle, a surgery can be performed to free the nerve from the surrounding scar tissue or fascia.
Treatments for numbness in feet or a neuroma can include non-surgical treatments such as steroid injections and offloading the forefoot with padding and/or orthotics. For more long term results, a series of alcohol injections can be used on the neuroma to dehydrate and destroy the nerve lesion.
As always, the doctors at Certified Foot & Ankle specialists are here to find the root of your problem and get you back to your best self.