Numb toes may be annoying and uncomfortable, and can be a cause for concern if the numbness is accompanied by other symptoms such as wounds, sores or infections in the feet. Numbness in the toes can affect just one or many of the toes and may occur suddenly or develop gradually over time, depending on the condition causing the numbness.
Bunions are a type of deformity that usually occur on the large toe, and can cause pain or a feeling of numbness. Almost all bunions occur in women, as a result of wearing improperly fitted shoes, especially shoes that squeeze the toes together. Bunions may cause numbness beginning in the large toe, and may spread to the second and third toes if left untreated.
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication that can occur as a result of untreated or poorly managed diabetes. The nerves in the toes can become damaged as a result, and early symptoms include numbness of the toes and feet. If diabetic neuropathy in the toes continues untreated, the toes may need to be amputated.
Disorders of the foot and gait may be a cause of numb toes. People who have flat feet or high arches may experience numbness in the toes from inflammation and irritation caused by stress when walking. Problems with the joints of the toes, such as arthritis and avascular necrosis, can also cause toe numbness.
A fracture of a bone or joint in the toes or upper part of the foot can cause numb toes. Trauma to the foot, such as dropping something heavy or having a surgical procedure, can irritate or inflame a nerve, which may result in toe numbness. A dislocated joint in the toe from tripping or stubbing the toe may also cause numbness.
A neuroma is an abnormal growth of a nerve, and occurs in the toes more often than any other body part. Neuromas can block messages transmitted by nerves, which can result in a feeling of numbness in the toes. Numbness caused by a neuroma can spread into the ball of the foot and may be accompanied by pain and difficulty walking.
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the blood vessels and usually occurs in the feet and legs. In the early stages of peripheral neuropathy, the toes may feel numb or tingly. Peripheral neuropathy may result in complications in the feet and toes, including sores that do not heal well and an inability to respond to pain.