What causes numbness in feet?

Updated November 21, 2016

Numbness in feet can be a difficult symptom to tie down to a specific disorder or condition. The simplest explanation for numbness in feet or tingling in legs is that the blood supply has been cut off and restored. The primary causes of numbness in feet are peripheral neuropathy, injury and shingles or herpes zoster, just to name a few conditions. These conditions can be associated with a wide range of disorders and ailments and are often part of a spectrum of symptoms that require focused scrutiny by a doctor or specialist.

Peripheral Neuropathy

According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy is a condition that is associated with many different types of ailments, including diabetes, systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. The most common cause is diabetes due to the damage the disease does to nerves. Treatment for peripheral neuropathy often includes medications such as Neurontin and Lyrica, which are anti-seizure medications and have both been shown to improve sensation in the feet and legs. Often peripheral neuropathy symptoms will go away if the underlying medical condition that is causing it is addressed.


One possible cause of numbness in feet and tingling in legs is herpes zoster and shingles, according to MedLinePlus. Herpes zoster and shingles are related to stress and often appear in older individuals. If a person has chicken pox (herpes zoster), the virus remains in their system and may reappear as an episode of shingles. There is no cure for herpes zoster or shingles. However, medications like Zovirex and Valtrex are commonly prescribed to help suppress outbreaks of painful blisters related to these conditions.

Low Back Injury

MedLinePlus discusses the impact of low back injuries to nerves that can cause numbness in feet and legs. Low back injuries often involve compression of the sciatica and other nerves that connect to the leg and foot. The result of these injuries is that the compression can cause pain and numbness. Low back injuries are one of the most common types of injuries, and treatments often involves rest, application, and hot and cold compresses and strengthening back muscles. As the problem is resolved, the numbness and tingling often goes away.

Multiple Sclerosis

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis can be a possible cause for numbness in feet and legs. Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the myelin sheath in nerves is stripped away by the disease. The myelin is a covering on each nerve that helps in the transmission of messages throughout the central nervous system (CNS). As the myelin is stripped from the nerves, it prevents nerves from passing messages from one nerve to another in the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease, and there is no cure. Although many people live for years without any major disability or discomfort, eventually individuals find they need help with the condition.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)

Transient ischemic attacks or TIAs are vastly different from a small stroke, according to MedLinePlus. TIAs are temporary blockages of blood to the brain, and the result can be temporary changes in sensations and abilities that are controlled by the brain. One of the symptoms of a TIA is numbness in feet, legs, hands and arms. A TIA can be caused by a blood clot, injury to blood vessels or narrowing of a blood vessel that leads to the brain.

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