Numbness, Burning or Tingling in the Feet Can Be The Sign Of Something More Serious

There are many reasons for numbness and tingling in the feet.  Sometimes the cause originates in the feet and other times it a systemic cause meaning there is a disease process in the body that manifests in the feet.  The number one cause of burning/numbness/tingling/pins and needles sensation in the foot in the US is diabetes.  Other common causes are alcoholism, vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, HIV, and multiple sclerosis.  Occasionally patients have “idiopathic peripheral neuropathy” which means there is no clear cause for the burning, numbness or tingling in their feet.  Systemic causes usually result in burning, tingling or numbness in BOTH feet and often in a symmetric distribution (like the toes, ball of the foot, or entire bottom surface).  A systemic cause of nerve sensations frequently occurs while at rest, especially in the evening and can even wake you from sleep.


If the burning or tingling sensation is in just one foot or leg, you may have a compressed nerve in the lower back (specifically L4, L5, S1).  When the problem is higher up then treating the foot is only for symptomatic relief and the problem is not truly being addressed.  If you have a known back problem (compressed vertebrae, slipped disc, etc), it is important to inform your podiatrist during your appointment.


Sometimes tight shoes (especially laced shoes) can cause numbness in the foot, particularly during exercise when our feet swell.  Occasionally patients have a bone spur on top of the foot in an unfortunate position where the nerve is pinched between the bone and shoes.  This can be relieved by skipping eyelets in the shoe so the laces do not contact that area of the foot, applying a pad around (but not on) the spur, or surgically removing the spur.


If you are going to see a podiatrist for burning or numbness in the feet, it is important for you to take note of when you have the sensations (with activity or while at rest, with or without shoes), specifically where the sensations occur and what gives you relief.  The more detailed you can be, the better the chance for accurate diagnosis and optimal treatmen

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Leave a Comment

  • ggaray

    Although very rare, I had tingling of my feet that was due to a condition call spinal avm.

  • Ricky L

    I have really bad pain in both of my feet.Iam wondering is there any type of self exam I could do to guess at why?

  • Barb

    I have all of these symptoms

  • linda

    i have tingling burning numbness sensation in both feet and now its 24-7 and now its traveling in both legs and also have needle like prickling out through my boby wish someone could help me ive seen doctors they give me meds but its not enough help for me does anyone might no what it could be its getting worse and im tiered off feeling this illness ty linda

  • beverley

    i have numness in both of my foot also no feelness whats cause that

  • beverley

    i have numness in both of my foot also no feelness whats cause that

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    I want to ask that is it the hereditary to have manifests in the feet.?

  • Lisa

    For 3 &1/2 years I have had pain, burning, numbness, & tingling, in both feet, toes, legs, hands & fingers as well as electric shock like sensations periodically in my hips, knees, & running across my shoulders. I have lower back pain also. Nearly every symptom began my 5th month of pregnancy & became worse with weight gain & swelling. My hands & legs feel like they are on fire at times when they are being used. My hands will turn bright red when this happens & my feet go from red, to a bluish purple color. Both hands & feet turn from hot to cold at times. My feet went from an 8 wide to a 11 wide (now a 9 wide to x wide) & I do not seem to have an arch at all now(flat footed). I am 5 feet 3 inches tall & went from 125 lbs to 205, (size 3/4 petite to an 18w) & 3 years later cannot lose the weight & pain is sooo much worse. I have chronic pitting edema in both legs. I have severe burning pain in my legs when walking fast that stops shortly after I sit down. My legs feel very heavy & I even feel like I walk odd. My shoes wear out oddly on the soles as well. I have occasional day time cramps (none at night) in my calf muscles. Sometimes they hurt for days to weeks making it difficult to walk normally. I feel weak & fatigued all the time. It is difficult to move in the morning & late evening. The strangest thin is that I have NEVER HAD ANY of the above symptoms BEFORE my pregnancy. I was diagnosed years ago with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), IC (Interstitial cystitis), Tension & Migraine Headaches, & Sciatica. With the sciatica it was ONLY on my left side (buttocks, thigh, & the back of my upper leg had pain & burning). There was NEVER any burning pain, numbness, or tingling in the lower legs or other extremities. Only recently was I diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Any clue what in the world could be going on??? My docs don’t seem to be giving me any REAL answers. I do not buy the “fibro” as a 100% cause. Docs now say L4 * L5 Compression in my lower back is likely the cause. Any thoughts on this or personal experiences are welcome. Thank you & God bless you for your prayers & concern~ Lisa in Conover, NC USA

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    I’ve had numbness and tingling in my feet for about two years now. the doc gave me gabapentin 600 mg. helps a little, but when i don’t take it, hurts a little more??going to try accupuncture. it is very irritating!!!

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  • Don

    24/7 burning, numbing, of both feet and legs.
    A1C is 5.6. Sometimes lower back and hip pain.
    Tried Lyrica, Neurontin, Nortriptyline…..These work about 40% of time.
    Also, had EMG test. Showed Small fiber neuropathy.
    What other tests can be done ? Thanks

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    How can I stop the burning in my feet?

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    My right ball of my foot and toes feel numb all the time and tingling and burning 24/7 when i go to see the doctor she said its because i had brocken 3 toes and lost my instep But i am a diabetic no one seem interested what can i do the pain is getting me down

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    I been having these symptoms for two days now going on for three days now I am scared


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  • sara j mcdill

    I have a tingling on the pad of my left foot it doesn’t hurt just annoying. Don’t know if I have back trouble never had it exrayed. My back doesn’t hurt just tingle in the pad of my foot.

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    • Molene Joseph

      IS there any medication that can relieve the itching, burning and numbness in the soles of the feet

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    I have numbness and tingling in the upper middle part of my feet down to my toes. No burning but it does seem to be more intense when I am sleeping. I am going to my doctor to check it out.

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    If the burning or tingling sensation is in just one foot or leg, you may have a compressed nerve in the lower back (specifically L4, L5, S1). When the problem is higher up then treating the foot is only for symptomatic relief and the problem is not truly being addressed. If you have a known back problem (compressed vertebrae, slipped disc, etc), it is important to inform your podiatrist during your appointment.

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    To keep it simple i have had a clicky right toe for a long time now and have recently started getting a tingling feeling aswell as the right side of my toe is a little numb. Should i be worried?

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    I have numbness and pain in my feet especially at night. Was sent to foot doctor and he did not know what was wrong. My feet and ankle have purple veins. What kind of doctor do I need to see. Numbness in daytime also but not bother me as much as night time.

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  • BillM

    for a long time I thought I had athletes foot,,,because of the itching and burning…..but as this progressed into numbing and tingling and when I was really tired it would creep up into my lower legs,I started looking into what it could be. I get it in both feet…if I sit for a about 20 minutes and get UP it takes me a little bit to start moving around from pain in my lower back on down to my feet….but as long as I am moving it is not as bad.

  • Dan

    I have this too.

    • Gama

      I have numbness or burning pain on my two feet. I am hypertensive and take some medications. Can somebody please let me know what is it

  • Me

    I have numbness and pain also mostly in my toes. Worse at night and extremely annoying and sometimes very painful. Been to my Primary care who sent me for a nerve test and a blood flow test all negative. Seeing a podiatrist who told me to take vitamin B 12 and put me on naproxen for 15 days. Still no change. I don’t have back problems to my knowledge. Still trying to figure it all out.

    • Bill (Doc) Watson

      Easy to test for Vit. B12 in blood. Don’t take without test. Can be pinched nerve in spinal column, early multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia. See a rheumatologist or neurologist. Best to eliminate worse things first. Nerve tests only check if nerves have been damaged…they can’t determine what’s causing nerves to react strangely.

  • denise

    i have a numbness in my right leg in just one whole spot and its been like that for 2 days someone noe y please let me noe im freaking out xc ????

  • Sheryl65

    I have been having blood pressure problems and my body has been rejecting them, I almost dies once from acute kidney damage caused from the Lisinopril I was talking, I have taken many and I do mean many different BP meds. when the BP meds stop working my BP goes up I get leg cramps, tired and irritable, loss of memory and my list goes on. I have not been feeling right and felt it was due to the loss of my 26 year old step daughter and many other things that have been happening this past year and my step daughter passed Feb 28th, we just has her funeral Friday March 13th 2015. I am not sure if it is my nerves or is it could be worse, possibly my kidneys? possibly stress and anxiety I just do not know but I went to the hospital last Tuesday night to see if my BP meds were failing me yet again, the doc took some blood, not sure what he tested and he was not in a very good mood and said it is stress. while waiting there I told the nurse that my feet both of them were tingling, he said he would tell the doc, well the doc never addressed it and I thought many my boots were bothering me as it was the first time ever. It will be one week this coming Tuesday that this is happening every day and now burning in both feet. I do suffer from CRPS/RSDS ( Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome ) it is mild and I have nerve damage from my left hip to me left foot and I take Gabapentin to control the pins and needles I suffer from in my left side, the Gabapentin is not touching this feeling in both of my feet. I am a little worried that possibly I am having problems with my kidneys or it could be something else causing the BP meds to not work. I am also getting severe muscle cramps in my ankles and feet badly and the burning and tingling is moving up both my legs to my shins also, almost to my knees I am very concerned and calling my doc in the morning yet sadly have to work a 10 hour day at a desk where I feel it much more while sitting down. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this?

    • Stephanie Garcia

      Did you ever find out the problem? I’m in a similar situation.

      • Sheryl65

        No not yet and I am getting much worse all over, my BP is very low from the time I wake in the morning until about 2:00PM, I am so very weak I feel as if I am going to pass out, thankfully I work nights and I am over this but that time my BP is going up and fast, none of the meds I am taking is helping me any, I am now getting also Brain Freezes now more so at night, feels like my brain had been stuck n a light socket and it goes through my eyes then a quick black out. My BP ranges usually 176/101-215/110 and it is not a good feeling. I work on the phones for a financial institution and thinking is a big part of my job and it gets very scary when your thought process is going 100mph. I have a complete physical tomorrow morning but has nothing to do with this however I am going to make it all about this, my doc’s are acting like I am crazy, they say I have been on almost every BP med possible and running out of options, Ummmm don’t that say there is something else wrong?. I have just lost 2 very special people in my life and 2 weeks apart and both females. one was 53 massive heart attack, the other 54 years old massive heart attack at the ER!. I am 50 and fear I am going to be next!. All I can say is this is crazy, I can not live like this any more. I have no ambition, no energy, no enthusiasm, no interest in talking on the phone, visiting with people or having people over. The old me has died and I want to find her again but I will not unless the doctors take me serious and do the right tests. I am pretty sure my problems has to do with my kidneys and can only pray they get the tests done fast. I will be sure to keep you posted if I find out any info.

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          hello Sheryl. Did you ever find out what your problem was?

  • Pamela Hazel

    I have moderately severe peripheral neuropathy, symmetrical, in both sets of toes and the balls of my feet. I am not diabetic. I have never had chemotherapy or radiation. The sensation worsens with lace-up shoes. At night, it can be very distracting, and even keep me awake. The sensation is constant, but when walking or deep in conversation or making music I can ignore it. I have had 3 spinal surgeries: In 2001, a brutal anterior lumbar fusion at L4-5 to relieve spondylolisthesis; in 2014, a much gentler fusion at L3-4 to relieve sever stenosis and remove what little was left of the disc between them, and replace the stabilizing hardware at L4-5 with new stabilizing hardware at L3-4; and in July 2015, a very gentle surgery at L2-3 to remove a ruptured disc at L2-3 and clear out arthritic growths. I have a deteriorating neck, thoracic spine, bad shoulders, elbows and knees, and my pain-management doc says he doesn’t understand how I function. However, I do, and quite well. I do housework (no bending, lifting –over 5 lbs –or twisting allowed), laundry, cooking, dishwashing, playing the guitar, singing, playing the electronic keyboard, walking on the treadmill and up and down multiple flights of stairs daily. I’m 5’3″ tall and weigh a little under 97 lbs. I have no visible fat. Veins, tendons, musculature and skeleton are all visible. I have tons of energy, eat about 3 times the amount supposedly suitable for my size, have a BMI of something like 16 – 17, burn up all the food I eat, am interested in absolutely everything, and find unmedicated sleep completely out of reach. I’ve seen multiple doctors, but none has been able, or willing, to address the neuropathy seriously. The only diagnosis has been “nerve damage.” I do have extensive osteoarthritis, but fibromyalgia has been ruled out, and through vitamins and OTC hormone cream I’ve reversed the DEX reading from -4 to normal, with osteopoenia of the right hip. I’ve falled hard 3 times since surgery in 2014, and my left hip has taken the beating. Nothing broke. I’ll be 70 in a few years. I was athletic in my youth, but lead a pretty gentle life now. I recently went through a series of traumatic medical crises, caused primarily by well-intentioned but foolish medical interventions. I am allergic to a long list of medications, including calcium channel blockers (BP meds, cause high BP, panic attacks and then seizure), gabapentin (shuts down my kidneys), Fosamax (causes extreme pain and the beginning of jaw necrosis), Ambien and Lunesta (send me into deep depression and hysteria), Reglan (mimics seizure), and all OTC anti-allergins (cause reasonably mild allergic reaction of extreme itching). I’m tired of being ignored on this issue. It doesn’t appear from any of the posts on this blog that anyone in a similar situation has been able to get relief. Am I wrong?

  • Bill (Doc) Watson

    Easy to test for Vit. B12 in blood. Don’t take without test. Can be
    pinched nerve in spinal column, early multiple sclerosis, poor blood flow, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or
    fibromyalgia. See a rheumatologist or neurologist. Best to eliminate
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  • William

    I have same problem just the toes burning pain and numb feeling, I had lower back surgery 4 years ago seems like it gotten worse…. It does wake me up several times at night and with no notice my wife said I wiggle my toes at rest relaxing watching TV

  • Norman Waldman

    for over 30 years when relaxing some times on both feet (although not at the same time) the arch gets numb,, feels like the vessel of the arch has something wrong / I have to hold the arch until the pain goes away – usually last about 30 seconds/