A lack of sensation in your foot could signal that something is affecting your peripheral nerves. Now the culprit may be as simple as nerve compression from poor posture or tight shoes, or it could signify a much larger cause requiring medical evaluation. Many disorders can have paresthesia (the medical term for “numbness”) as a symptom which means that if you have an underlying medical condition, you best speak to your doctor.
What Is Foot Numbness?
The term “foot numbness” may mean different things to different people. Numbness in the foot could refer to the following:
- An abnormal feeling
- Loss of sensitivity
- A pins-and-needles sensation
In general, foot numbness means an abnormal sensation in the foot. The medical term for distorted sensation is paresthesia.
To understand paresthesia, you need to know a little about how the nervous system works. It’s made up of the central nervous system and peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves branch off of the spinal cord and travel in the arms and legs finding sensory stimulation that is then communicated with the sensory cortex of the brain. This is the region of the brain that processes sensory information and then uses it to create motor responses.
Foot numbness is very common, affecting up to 7 percent of adults in the United States. That’s about 16 million people. Many of these individuals have diabetes, which is the leading cause of foot numbness. But there are many other causes of paresthesia.
Causes of Foot Numbness
Some types of paresthesia appear suddenly. Others are progressive meaning they get worse with time. Foot numbness can be temporary, lasting as little as a few minutes, like when your “foot is asleep.” Or foot numbness can be permanent. This can happen when the cause of nerve damage is a chronic medical condition.
Foot numbness itself is not life threatening but it can be dangerous in the sense that it changes the balance and stability of the individual. When you can’t feel your feet touch the ground walking can become difficult, and driving impossible.
Here are some of the most common causes of foot numbness:
- Diabetic Neuropathy. About one in two people with diabetes has nerve damage (neuropathy). One of the hallmark symptoms of diabetic neuropathy is foot numbness.
- Multiple Sclerosis. Numbness in the limbs is a typical symptom of multiple sclerosis which may or may not also be associated with foot drop.
- Pinched nerve. If a nerve has suffered damage or injury from stretching, compression, or constriction (“pinching”), you may get foot numbness. Other symptoms include pain, tingling, and a pins-and-needles sensation.
- Peripheral neuropathy.This condition affects the peripheral nerves due to chemotherapy treatment, nutritional deficiency or idiopathy (autoimmune) causes.
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It’s a rare disorder that affects about one in 100,000 people each year. The symptoms include foot numbness and pain, as well as weakness and loss of reflexes.
- Fibromyalgia. More than 80 percent of people with fibromyalgia have paresthesia. Numbness in people with fibromyalgia is not usually limited to the foot. It affects other parts of the body, too.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.This condition is associated with pain, burning sensation, numbness, tingling, and tightness in the sole of the foot.
- Morton’s Neuroma. Morton’s neuroma happens when the nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes thickens due to improper foot stabilization or restrictive footwear. The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma begin gradually. They include numbness, tingling, and pain in the toes and ball of the foot.
Treatment of Foot Numbness
The choice of treatment for foot numbness depends on its cause. It’s wise to see a doctor if you get foot numbness from other causes than poor posture or tight shoes. If you also have pain, weakness, or other symptoms, speak to a doctor.
How to Treat Foot Numbness
There are many medical conditions that can cause paresthesia therefore it is wise to seek medical help to pinpoint the cause. To be able to make a diagnosis, your doctor will need to examine you and your medical history. Referral to a specialist may be necessary.
Once your doctor identifies the underlying cause of paresthesia, they’ll work on addressing it. You may need to make changes to your diet, stop drinking alcohol, or you may need to take prescription drugs.
Medication for neuropathic pain includes antidepressants, antiepileptic medications, antispasmodics, and analgesics. You may also need to work with a specialist, like an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, or podiatrist.
Addressing of Foot Numbness with Enhanced Sensory Stimulation
Plantar foot sensory stimulation benefits anyone including those with foot numbness. Chronic foot numbness may lead to foot weakness and balance impairment which means reduced foot sensitivity can increase the risk of falls and injuries.
Fortunately, there is a way to prevent loss of sensitivity: enhanced stimulation of the foot using textured insoles. Naboso Technology insoles are specifically designed to improve dynamic stability and mobility by stimulating the skin on the bottom of the feet.
The foot’s nerves are sensitive to stimuli like vibration, pressure, texture, and touch. They send this information to the central nervous system (sensory cortex), which uses it to control your balance and movement. Wearing shoes blocks some of the stimulation the foot’s nerves receive which is an important considering especially in those who have existing foot numbness.
Textured insoles in your shoes can mimic the sensory stimulation of walking barefoot and help those living with foot numbness appreciate a new connection to their feet.
Benefits of Naboso Technology
Using Naboso Technology insoles has many benefits including:
- Increased plantar foot sensory stimulation. This boosts the foot’s sensitivity and promotes nerve function.
- Improved posture and balance. The more we are connected to our feet, the better our overall sense of body alignment.
- Reduced fall risk. This is again due to the improved connection with the foundation of our body – the feet.
Using textured insoles in your shoes is not the only way to enhance plantar foot stimulation. Naboso Technology has also integrated its textured material into training mats. Exercising barefoot on a Naboso Technology Mat increases joint position sense and body awareness during rehab and training exercises.
Numbness of the foot, or paresthesia, is an abnormal sensation in the foot. It happens when a nerve suffers injury, compression, or constriction. The causes of foot numbness range from poor posture to chronic diseases. The treatment for foot numbness depends on its cause. But prevention is always better than treatment. Preventing foot numbness involves keeping the foot’s nerves healthy.
Using Naboso Technology insoles is an effective way to enhance the sensory stimulation of the foot. The added benefits are better balance, coordination, and mobility. Do you need help choosing your Naboso Technology insoles? Click here to learn about the graduated stimulation of our insoles