At some point of our life, we have prickling sensation in the hands and feet and sometimes in other parts of the body due to lack of movement. Sleeping/sitting in the same position for extended hours can block the normal blood flow at some parts causing numbness (temporary). Many things may cause numbness feeling in arms and feet for short-term, which disappears once the person resumes activity.
However we are talking about numbness or tingling sensation caused in feet and toes permanently. It is a serious condition which is known as paresthesia in medical terms. Numbness in any part of the body without any obvious reasons can be an indication for serious disease like carpel tunnel syndrome or even multiple sclerosis. You would know about various causes, symptoms, risk factors and ways of treating numbness in this article.
Temporary numbness can be caused due to lack of movement like sitting with crossed legs for long or sleeping in the same position for hours together. This can cause temporary numbness and many factors like insect bites, eating toxic foods and any injury in the neck can also cause tingling or numbness. Undergoing radiation therapy, having abnormal levels of vitamins or other ions, having uncontrolled diabetes for long, having herniated disk in the spinal cord, having infectious diseases like shingles or encephalitis and migraine headache are some of the causes for numbness.
Medical conditions like Raynaud’s syndrome and myeliitis (swelling of spine) and immune related disorders like multiple sclerosis can affect the brain causing numbness in legs and feet. Getting a mini stroke or transient ischemic attack in which blood flow to the brain is blocked for few seconds can lead to numbness. Many types of thyroid problems like hypothyroidism and thyroiditis can cause tingling sensation or numbness. At times, nerve injury is so serious that the damage caused to the part becomes irreversible leading to permanent numbness.
Burning sensation or tingling sensation can be felt by many people at some point of life. Standing up after sitting in the same position for extended hours can cause numbness temporarily. But this gets resolved once you resume activity. Some of the other signs of numbness include having no sensation in the legs even after a person starts walking or doing other activities.
You may not have any feeling or any sensation in your feet even after resuming activity. Some people may have muscle spasms, may feel dizzy and urinate several times. You need to consult your doctor without any delay if you have additional symptoms like above and if you have had any recent infections like rash, injury or have started taking any new medication.
Based on the symptoms, your doctor may order for several tests like complete blood profile, electrolyte test, nerve conduction test and testing for presence of toxins in blood. He may order for imaging tests like X-rays, CT/MRI scan of the affected part like legs or even order for lumbar puncture to diagnose the condition.
People having diabetes would experience numbness in legs and hands often. On account of reduced feeling they may not feel any pain or injury in the legs. In the event they might even touch hot objects getting burnt or have chance for cutting with sharp objects.
Your doctor would have clear idea about the root cause of the problem before starting the treatment. Treatment approach is purely based on the cause. Medications and suitable exercise therapy is recommended for people with Carpel tunnel syndrome. If increased level of blood sugar is causing numbness injection is given to bring down the blood sugar drastically. High blood sugar can cause other complications like affecting the eyes and even your kidneys. Vitamin deficiency can be treated by taking supplementary vitamins daily. If any new medication is causing numbness your doctor would find suitable alternative drugs.
A Word Of Caution :
People having numbness in legs can accidentally injure their foot. Diabetic people are at high risk of developing numbness in hands and feet. Hence place your steps carefully to prevent such injuries or cuts.