What to Do When You Get Tingling Pain in Your Feet
At Waukesha Foot Specialists, we provide treatment for many different kinds of foot and ankle conditions. These conditions cause an array of issues ranging from embarrassment (fungal toenails) to sharp, stabbing pain (plantar fasciitis). One of the most serious conditions we treat—nerve damage in feet—can lead to severe issues and medical emergencies. If your feet are tingling—and especially if this is a chronic condition—there is a good chance it’s an indication of nerve damage in your lower limbs. More specifically, the damaged nerve tissues are most likely sensory peripheral nerves. Your body uses several different kinds of nerves. In this case, the ones we are discussing run throughout your entire body and are responsible for collecting sensory information, and then communicating it back to the central nervous system (your spinal column and brain). Tingling is one of the symptoms of nerve damage, but others include burning, prickling, throbbing, and painful sensations. In some cases, neuropathy causes hypersensitivty (extreme sensitivity to touch) – which can make something like a light bedsheet or the water coming down in the shower rather painful. Symptoms like those are definitely bad news, but even more concerning, however, is when nerve damage leaves you unable to feel physical sensations. When nerve damage is responsible for numbness, issues like tiny cuts and sores can potentially break down over time and become ulcers. There is an especially high risk of this for those who have diabetes (and this highlights the importance of diabetic foot care). The main concern with this situation is when an untreated ulcer leads to gangrene – tissue death that can only be “treated” by amputation of an affected limb (so the gangrene doesn’t spread). Nerve damage is certainly concerning no matter where you experience it in your body, but neuropathy in the feet is especially concerning for a couple of reasons. First, your feet endure tremendous physical stress on a daily basis—even if all you do is stand and walk around a bit—which can place them at heightened risk for various injuries and medical problems. Second, your feet aren’t particularly visible, even when not covered by socks and shoes. They are, after all the farthest points on the body from your eyes. This means you need to be vigilant and catch the issues (that can become medical emergencies when left unattended) early! When everything goes as it should, the transfer of information is smooth. This isn’t always the case, however, and neuropathy is often to blame. When this occurs, you will likely experience sensations that shouldn’t exist—pain, tingling, burning—or, even worse, no sensation at all. Numbness can be particularly concerning for individuals who have autoimmune disorders and conditions like diabetes. The causes of nerve damage are quite varied. They include such factors as:
- Diabetes. Over half of those affected by this disease experience some form of neuropathy.
- Infections. Various bacterial or viral infections—Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, Lyme disease, hepatitis C—can affect the nervous system.
- Trauma. Accidents and injuries can damage or severe peripheral nerves and create disconnect in the system or result in fault messages being sent.
- Tumors. Whether cancerous or benign, a tumor that grows on a nerve or presses against one can lead to peripheral neuropathy issues.
- Poor nutrition. A lack of B vitamins, vitamin E, and niacin can impair nerve health.