10 Causes of Tingling Feet

Although your feet have the very important job of helping you move regularly, you probably don’t notice them much unless you’re using them or looking directly at them. But when your feet tingle, it’s hard to think of anything else.

Tingling feet is not a medical term, but doctors certainly know what it means. It can present in many ways, says Melissa Lockwood, DPM, podiatrist at Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates in Bloomington, Illinois. “You may feel like your foot has fallen asleep and you’re trying to wake it up, or your foot is completely numb,” she adds. “It can be quite painful and burning at times.”

It can really vary from person to person. “I get patients who describe it as tingling, while others say it feels like a buzzing or burning sensation,” says Ilan Danan, MD, sports neurologist and pain management specialist at the Center. of sports neurology and pain medicine at Cedars. -Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California.

If you have tingling in your feet and they’re gone, it’s probably just one of those things. But, if your symptoms don’t go away, if they go away and come back, or if you have certain health conditions like diabetes and you have tingling in your feet, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a checkup. , says Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD, professor and chair of neurology at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Tingling in your feet doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition — it can sometimes happen from something as simple as sitting on your foot in a weird way, says Dr. Danan. But some conditions can lead to tingling in the feet. Keep them on your radar.

Meet the experts: Melissa Lockwood, DPM, is a podiatrist with over 15 years of experience. She has received several awards, including the Mildred Kaufman Memorial Award from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine for her skills in orthopedics and biomechanics.

Ilan Danan, MD, is a sports neurologist and interventional pain management physician. He is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Neurology and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

1. Diabetes

      Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar (blood sugar) is too high. It affects about 30.3 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

      “High blood sugar can damage nerve fibers, but also affect the small blood vessels that deliver nutrients to peripheral nerves,” says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. (By the way, peripheral nerves are those outside your brain and spinal cord.) This can make it difficult for your nerve fibers to transmit signals, causing a tingling sensation.

      Other symptoms, according to the NIDDK, may include:

      • increased thirst and urination
      • increased hunger
      • fatigue
      • Blurred vision
      • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
      • wounds that do not heal
      • unexplained weight loss

      If detected early enough and your blood sugar is under control, you may be able to correct the tingling sensation. But, if you leave it too long, Dr. Danan says it’s possible to develop permanent nerve damage.

      2. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

      Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). When a person has MS, their body’s immune system targets the protective sheath that covers nerves called myelin. This can lead to a range of symptoms including tingling, muscle weakness and fatigue.

      “When the myelin sheath isn’t functioning or present the way it’s supposed to be, it can cause tingling,” says Dr. Lockwood. There is no cure for MS, but appropriate treatment, such as biologic medications, can help control symptoms.

      3. Hypothyroidism

      Hypothyroidism is a common condition in which your thyroid does not create and release enough thyroid hormones into your bloodstream, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This can slow down your metabolism and lead to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty tolerating cold temperatures.

      The tingling sensation in the feet due to hypothyroidism is “probably caused by tissue swelling that puts pressure on nerve fibers,” says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. Hypothyroidism is usually treated by taking a drug called levothyroxine, which increases the amount of thyroid hormone your body produces, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

      4. Tarsal tunnel syndrome

      Tarsal tunnel syndrome is basically like carpal tunnel syndrome, but for your feet, says Dr. Lockwood. The condition is caused by compression of the posterior tibial nerve (found in your foot) and can cause symptoms like pain, tingling, or numbness in your foot, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

      Treatment involves taking anti-inflammatory medications or receiving steroid injections into the tarsal tunnel to relieve pressure and swelling. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

      5. Kidney failure

      Kidney failure means that most of your kidney function has disappeared, according to the Mayo Clinic. At this point, your kidneys are unable to filter waste products from your blood, and your blood chemistry may become unbalanced.

      Symptoms, other than tingling in the feet, can include less peeing than usual, fluid retention, shortness of breath and weakness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Chronic kidney failure “can damage nerve fibers,” leading to tingling in the feet, says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. Treatment usually involves IV fluids, medications to control potassium in your blood, and dialysis to remove toxins from your blood.

      6. Rheumatoid arthritis

      Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks their joints by mistake. This can cause symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. About 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

      Rheumatoid arthritis can “cause inflammation around nerve tissue,” causing nerves to become compressed, says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. Treatment includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).


      Lupus is a chronic disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. About 1.5 million Americans are affected by the disease, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. It most commonly affects the skin, joints, and internal organs, and can cause a host of different symptoms.

      The reason for tingling in the feet with lupus is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. Lupus is treated with a range of medications, including corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressive drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

      8. Shingles

      Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (the same one that leads to chickenpox), according to the CDC. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in your body, but it can reactivate later, causing shingles.

      Shingles is a painful rash that occurs on one side of your body and can cause pain, itching, or tingling in the area. “It’s an attack on the nerves,” says Dr. Danan, pointing out that you may even have a lingering tingling or burning sensation in your feet after you recover. Shingles is treated with antiviral drugs like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

      9. Alcoholic neuropathy

      Alcoholic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption. This can cause tingling or numbness in the hands, arms, legs, and feet. The mechanism is not well understood, but it could involve the direct toxic effect of alcohol on nerve fibres,” explains Dr. Dhib-Jalbut.

      “Usually these symptoms are not reversible,” says Dr. Lockwood. “Once you develop that, you’re at your new baseline.”

      10. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

      Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of rare diseases that damage peripheral nerves. People with CMT typically develop progressive muscle weakness and may have smaller, weaker muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. This can lead to loss of sensation, muscle twitching, and difficulty walking.

      CMT “affects the structure and function of peripheral nerves,” leading to symptoms such as nerve tingling, says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. There is no cure for CMT, but patients can get relief with nerve pain medications, as well as the use of walking aids.

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