Daily Medicos

Numbness in Feet: Why do I feel numbness in extremities?

Having numbness in feet for a long time can be the signal of any medical problem like stroke, injury, infection, or maybe the associated symptom of neurological damage or sensory-related condition.

We will discuss;

  • What does numbness mean?
  •  causes of numbness in feet
  • symptoms of numbness in feet
  • treatment and prevention of numbness in feet

What does numbness mean?

Numbness is a symptom which also called as “paresthesia” means abnormal loss of sensations that occur anywhere in your body, but they often felt in extremities. 

Feeling numbness in your extremities is common if you laying and sithing awkwardly that blocks nerve signals. Even you won’t feel the touch, pain, or temperature for some time and you may also experience tingling, prickling, or pins and needles.

 Conditions that Causes numbness in feet:

Numbness in feet occurs when any type of nerve damage, irritates, or compressed.

 Short-term numbness of extremities can be the cause of inappropriately sitting or sleeping positions that compressed the nerve of that area and occur without other symptoms.

Long-term numbness could the associated symptom of a serious condition such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis. 

Conditions associated with numbness of extremities include;

Posture:

Inappropriate posture for a long time puts pressure on a nerve or reduces blood flow in the limbs. It is the most common cause of temporary numbness which also calls “transient paresthesia” in medical terms and casually people say their leg has “fallen asleep.” 

A posture that causes extremities numb are;

  • Crossing legs for a long time.
  • Kneeling for too long.
  • Sitting or standing on feet for a long.
  • Wear tight pants, socks, shoes or dresses.
  • Sleep on the hands.
  • Lift heavy weight for too long, which also stretches muscles.

Injury:

Injuries to joints like ankle, hip, and dislocation or herniation of discs in the spinal cord put pressure and compression on nerves and cause numbness or sensory disturbance.

Neck injury from any accidents or from weight lifting causes numbness in arm or hand.

Sciatica is the medical condition in which sciatic nerve which runs from the lumbar region(lower back) to the legs is irritated or compressed, which causes numbness, pain in movement in their legs.    

 Diabetes: 

Diabetic neuropathy is the condition in which high blood sugar causes nerve damage. Its primary symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in feet.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome:

 The tarsal tunnel is the narrow space on the inside of the ankle from which the posterior tibial nerve pass.  Compression or squeezing to the nerve causes numbness, tingling, burning, and shooting pain in their ankle.

Carpal tunnel syndrome:

The carpal tunnel syndrome is the common condition in which one major nerve to the hand-median nerve is compressed or squeezed, which causes numbness, tingling, and pain in hand and arm. 

Peripheral artery disease:

Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of the peripheral artery which serves in legs, arms, and stomach. Narrowing or peripheral artery reduces the amount of blood flow and tension of the wall. It is caused by atherosclerosis and symptoms include painful cramping, numbness, or weakness. It mostly occurs in legs.

Tumors or abnormal growth:

Tumors, cyst, abscesses, benign growth can put pressure or compress the nerve of the brain, spinal cord, which also compromise blood flow to the extremities and causes numbness. 

Excessive Alcohol and Tobacco Use:

Chronic and excessive use of alcohol and tobacco can leads to nerve damage which relates to the reduction of vitamin B, like vitamin B1, B9, and B12, and causes numbness and other symptoms.

Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain in the whole body. It is a chronic and long-lasting condition that causes symptoms like;

  • Numbness in extremities.
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Memory problem.
  • Fatigue and stiffness.
  • Headache.
  • Muscles twitches.
  • Depression or anxiety.

Many people with fibromyalgia experience symptoms in more than one part of the body and for at least 3 months at a time.

Multiple sclerosis (MS):

In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the protective covering (myelin) of nerve fibers, which causes communication problems between the brain and the body.

Patients with MS experience sensory nerve damage that causes numbness in extremities or other parts, numbness lasts for a short period if it lasts long can cause disabling. 

Strokes:

Stroke is also called a “brain attack”, occur when blood flows to the brain or part of the brain stop or bursting of a vessel. It may damage the interprets and processes nerve signals and causes temporary or long-lasting numbness in parts of the body.

Symptoms to Check for Numbness in Feet:

Many people experience more symptoms with numbness at the same time or intermittingly, like;

  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Tickling
  • Itching
  • Crawl feeling in the skin

Treatment and Prevention:

Treatment for numbness depends on the cause diagnosed by the doctor.

If numbness in limbs affects their ability to work and walk then you should seek the doctor.

Some times numbness can be treated with medications including;

  •  antidepressants( approved for the fibromyalgia),
  •  corticosteroid( reduce inflammation and numbness associated with MS),
  •  Gabapentin, and pregabalin( reduce numbness associated with fibromyalgia, MS, and diabetic neuropathy).

Prevention of Numbness in feet with home remedies:

Home remedies that help to relieve numbness in extremities include;

numbness in feet
Physiotherapy can also help you feel relieved from the pain.
  • Rest → Numbness in legs or feet can improve with rest.
  • Ice → Apply ice on swelling or numb area can reduce the pressure on the nerve.
  • Heat → hot bag helps to loosen stiffness, sore or tense muscle, and overcome numbness.
  • Massage and exercise → massage helps to improve blood flow and light exercise helps to restore the nerve implies in short term numbness. 
  • Supportive devices → like braces and designed footwear help to reduce nerve pressure and blood flow.
  • Sleep → proper sleep helps to restore the energy to reduce numbness.
  • Healthy food and balanced diet → help to fulfill the deficiency of vitamin B and reduce inflammation, pain, and numbness.
  • Reduce and avoid alcohol → reduction in alcohol consumption can reduce the numbness of feet.

Alternative therapies include reflexology, acupuncture, biofeedback, hydrotherapy, mindfulness meditation, and vitamin B supplements.

Takeaway: 

 Numbness in extremities which last for a small period, is common in daily life which can be reduced by rest, massage, or balanced diet. If time extends it may be a sign of any medical condition. 

Numbness that is unexplained, persistent, painful, and disabling or accompanied by other medical conditions than should see a doctor for diagnosis and further treatment.

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