What causes numb feet?

Updated February 21, 2017

Foot numbness is characterised by the loss of sensitivity or the feeling of tingling in the feet. Environmental factors are erhaps the most common causes of foot numbness. When your feet are subjected to cold for an extended period of time, they are likely to become numb. Cold water is especially effective at numbing the skin. Anything that cuts off blood flow to the feet also can cause numbness. A tight bandage around the leg can act as a tourniquet and cause numbness. Crossing the legs can cause numbness as the weight of in leg can cut off blood flow. Simply sitting in the same place without moving for an extended period can sometimes lead to numbness. Numbness caused by environmental factors is usually not cause for worry unless numbness is allowed to persist. Once the cause of the numbness is taken away, blood flow will continue and the numbness will fade.

Circulatory Problems

Since impeded blood flow to the feet can cause numbness, various circulatory disorders can cause foot numbness. Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a condition where the arteries become clogged with fatty plaques which inhibits blood flow and often causes foot numbness. Diabetes also increase the likelihood of foot numbness. Severe heart conditions, such as heart attack, heart palpitations and heart disease in general can cause foot numbness. Staying fit and working out the heart with regular aerobic exercise can help keep the heart healthy and increase oxygen delivery to the feet, reducing the chances that they will become numb.

Nerve Problems

The nervous system is responsible for sending sensory impulses from the skin and tissues to the brain. When the nervous system is impaired, the feet and legs can feel numb or even lose all feeling. Damage to the spinal cord, or pressure on the spinal cord by a tumour or other growth can lead to numb feet. Stoke or tumours in the brain can impede sensory processing and which can lead to feelings of numbness. Various drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, can cause nerve damage which will increase the chances of numbness. Infections or scar tissue can also inhibit the function of the nerves, which may cause the sensation of numbness. Considering the range of causes for foot numbness, if you experience persistent numbness, it is important to determine the exact cause to make sure you do not have a serious underlying condition.

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About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.