Toe numbness can be a sign of many different issues, and some are much more serious than others. So when do you know when toe numbness is something to ignore or something to have examined by a foot specialist? Today, we take a closer look at why this condition sets in, and how to treat it.
What Causes Toe Numbness?
As we noted above, toe numbness can be caused by a variety of different issues, and it can come in different forms. For some people, their toe numbness is temporary and fleeting, while for others it is chronic. Here are a few of the more common reasons why someone may be experiencing numbness in the toes of one or both of their feet:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Nerve compression
- Inhibited blood supply due to tight or ill-fitting shoes
- Spinal cord injury
- Inflammation of the blood vessels
Aside from those conditions, toe numbness can also occur during or after intense athletic activity or exercise. This occurs because the nerves are frequently compressed during high-impact movement. Numbness caused by exercise should subside fairly quickly once you stop exercising.
Finally, on very rare occasions, toe numbness can be caused by serious medical issues, like a stroke or seizure.
Medical Help For Toe Numbness
If you’re looking up causes of toe numbness, you’re probably also wondering if it’s a serious medical issue that warrants medical intervention. If the problem resolves on its own and only seems to develop after exercise or heavy alcohol consumption, than it’s likely not much of an issue, and you could benefit from limiting your alcohol intake or investing in a more breathable shoe. Along a similar vein, if you know that numbness is a potential side effect of a larger condition like diabetes or peripheral neuropathy, then there’s little more you can do than follow your doctor’s instructions for caring for the primary condition.
However, if toe numbness is accompanied by some more serious symptoms, you should head into an emergency room as it could be a sign of one of the rare problems we spoke about above. If toe numbness is paired with blurred vision, facial drooping, loss of balance, sudden and severe headaches, tremors, spasms or difficulty speaking, dial 911 is these are signs of a stroke or seizure.
Don’t miss those warning signs, but remember that in most cases, toe numbness is not an emergency. If it becomes more frequent or chronic, set up a visit with a foot specialist as there’s likely a bigger condition at play. Your doctor can get to the bottom of the problem with the assistance of a physical exam and imaging tests. Treating the condition depends on your exact diagnosis, but common treatment methods include physical therapy, pain relievers, rest, shoe changes and a healthy diet. For more information about toe numbness, or to talk to a doctor about your foot issue, reach out to Dr. Silverman in the text box below.
Lance Silverman, MD
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