If you are standing outside in the cold for too long these days, chances are your toes might feel numb. But there are many more reasons why legs and feet can feel numb and tingly. The medical terminology for numbness and tingling is called "paresthesias". One of the most common causes of paresthesias in the lower extremities is nerve impingement. It is important to understand that the nerves supplying the feet arise from the lower back region. Any time there is an impingement or back injury, foot and leg numbness is common. Neuromas (inflammation of the nerves) in the foot can cause "an electric shock type" sensation in the toes and cause numbness in the toes when in shoes. Another common cause of paresthesias is diabetes-most commonly termed diabetic neuropathy.
One of the major reasons why it is important for diabetic patients to see podiatrists every few months is so that we can test your sensation and make sure there are no cuts or scrapes that can lead to serious infections. Poor circulation can lead to cold feet but also numbness. Raynaud's disease is seen more commonly in the winter months and patients frequently come in complaining of "not being able to feel their toes". Some of the other less common causes of paresthesias in the lower limb can be vitamin deficiency, autoimmune diseases such as thyroiditis and Celiac's disease, pregnancy, kidney disease and infections such as Lyme disease and shingles. If you are experiencing paresthesias in the lower extremities, make an appointment with the foot specialists at Advanced Podiatry and we can work together to figure out the cause. We work well with other specialists such as neurologists to find the best treatments for our patients.