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Introduction

What is foot numbness?

Foot numbness is an abnormal condition in which you feel a loss of sensation in one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) feet, including the toes.

Foot numbness is usually due to a lack of blood supply to an area or nerve damage. Foot numbness can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, and other abnormal processes, although a numb foot usually indicates nerve damage or disease. Most cases of foot numbness are not due to life-threatening disorders, but it does occur with stroke and tumors.

Foot numbness is often associated with or preceded by pain-like pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations called paresthesias. Whereas foot numbness is a loss of sensation, paralysis involves a loss of movement, with or without the loss of sensation in the area.

Depending on the cause, the loss of sensation can disappear quickly, such as numbness after sitting for a long time that will fade away once you move your legs and feet around. Chronic numbness in the feet generally indicates some level of damage to the nerves. Foot numbness may also be worse at night, which is common for paresthesias in general.

Because foot numbness may be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition, you should talk with your medical professional about any unusual sensations or foot numbness that lasts more than a few minutes.

If you experience foot numbness with loss of bladder or bowel control, paralysis, confusion, weakness in the foot, or slurred speech, seek immediate medical attention in an emergency facility. If your foot numbness is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

Medical Reviewers: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Review Date: Aug 2, 2013

© 2014 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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