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.

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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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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.

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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

  • negozi musica

    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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    Jill I have been having this for TWO days also, and I am scared as well. I am 37 years old, not a diabetic..no back problems….I hope this isnt something serious

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    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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    MY FEET DO ALL THAT I HAVE TO STAND ON AN COLD FLOOR FOR IT TO STOP BURNING .

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

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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.

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  • 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.

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