Tingling of the feet is an annoying symptom that can occur for a variety of reasons. Find out what causes the feet to tingle.
Do you experience tingling of the feet? This is a common symptom that can have a variety of causes. Sometimes this symptom is described as an “electrical sensation” or as a transient numbness involving the bottoms of the feet. For most people, this symptom is disturbing, particularly when they don’t know why it’s occurring. What causes foot tingling?
Foot Tingling: It Could Be Related to Exercise
Have you recently started a rigorous exercise program that involves a lot of repetitive trauma to the feet? Vigorous jumping or running for long distances can cause temporary irritation to the superficial nerves that line the bottom of the feet, leading to foot irritation and tingling. It can also be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. This usually resolves with proper footwear and rest. Tingling of the feet can also arise from entrapment conditions involving the legs. This occurs when the muscles, ligaments or tendons in the lower extremities become inflamed and swollen from repetitive use causing pain, tingling, or numbness.
More Serious Nerve Problems
Sometimes tingling of the feet can be caused by a neuropathy or inflammation involving the deeper nerves of the feet. This is commonly seen in diabetics, although it can be associated with a number of other conditions including autoimmune diseases, an underactive thyroid, or kidney disease. This type of neuropathy may be associated with a burning pain along the bottoms of the feet.
Peripheral neuropathies can also be due to vitamin deficiencies, particularly of the B vitamins, as well as exposure to toxins such as heavy metals and chronic use of alcohol. Medications are a common cause of neuropathy, particularly cancer medications, seizure drugs, and medications used to treat AIDS. The nerves in the feet are very sensitive to damage from abnormal chemicals in the blood stream resulting from underlying disease or toxin exposure.
Back and Spinal Cord Problems
Tingling of the feet can also be caused by conditions that put pressure on the spine nerves that innervate the feet. This can arise from a slipped disc in the back or even from a tumor compressing on the spinal cord. It may be associated with other symptoms such as back pain or weakness in the legs and feet. Tumors can also involve a peripheral nerve in the foot leading to tingling in a one foot or just a toe.
Occasionally, tingling of the feet can be due to poor foot circulation to the legs and feet due to peripheral vascular disease in the lower extremities. This may cause the legs and back of the calves to hurt when walking which usually resolves with rest. The legs and feet may also feel cold to the touch due to inadequate blood flow reaching the feet.
The bottom line? Tingling of the feet is a symptom that deserves a complete medical exam. Sometimes simple blood work can determine the cause. In other cases, more extensive testing may need to be done. If you have this symptom, don’t ignore it. Make an appointment to see your doctor.