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Four Common Causes of Tingling Feet

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.

Circulation Problems

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.

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  1. Good.

    Kristie, help!! What do you do when your daughter is anorexic to the point where she has started missing her periods?

  2. This is an informative medical update. Written well. Words stand strongly.

  3. Great article! I had sciatica a year and a half ago. It caused my foot to go completely to sleep at times and at others just a numb spot or two. Very uncomfortable. Thanks for the great information!

  4. Yes, people usually ignore these things if they symtoms go away, but if they reappear, a medical visit is so very needed.
    Great Article as usual!

  5. I have this problem and this is definately the best medical advice I have read. I was really surprised to learn that it can be so serious that it is linked with tumors. Thanks very much indeed for shedding light on this.

  6. Interesting. Thank you

  7. For temporary relief, try wrapping a cold damp towel around them. Next, its time to see doctor.

  8. I have severe back problems. The tingling in my foot just started yesterday. Needed to get some info. This was very informative. Will be bringing it to my Dr’s attention. Very scary, but I think mine is due to spine problems. I have a herniated and bulging disks……….I’m sure it’s due to this.

  9. Um…what about if you sat on your feet for a long time…? Do I need a complete medical exam because of the way I sit sometimes?

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