Numbness of the toes generally is a result of conditions that affect the nerves and/or blood vessels that supply the foot. Numbness of the toes is often associated with tingling. Numbness and tingling sensations in the toes is referred to as paresthesia of the toes.
The most common cause of toe numbness is direct compression of the nerves of the foot from footwear from shoes. Numbness of the toe can occur because of injury to the foot, nerve damage (neuropathy), and poor circulation to the foot (such as with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease). Numbness to the foot can also be caused by irritation of nerves in the low back with radiculopathy and herniated disc, Guillain-Barré syndrome, frostbite, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, beriberi, multiple sclerosis (MS), Raynaud's phenomenon, and vasculitis. There is increased potential for irritation of nerves in the foot when skeletal deformity occurs, such as from bunions.
Other causes of numbness toes
- Foot Compression (Tight Shoes, Casts, etc.)
- Foot Trauma Injury
- Peroneal Nerve Irritation
Causes of Numbness Toes
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which irritation of the wrist's median nerve causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and the nature of any disease that might be causing the symptoms.
Degenerative Disc Disease and Sciatica
Degenerative disc disease makes the disc more susceptible to herniation (rupture) which can lead to localized or radiating pain. The pain from degenerative disc or joint disease of the spine is usually treated conservatively with intermittent heat, rest, rehabilitative exercises and medications to relieve pain, muscle spasm and inflammation.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
There are two categories of cold weather-related injuries. 1) no freezing of body tissue (trench foot and chilblains), and 2) freezing of body tissues (frostbite). Chilblains in general, will not need medical attention (unless there is infection). Trench foot and frostbite, however, require medical attention. Symptoms of frostbite include pain, burning, numbness, and eventually a complete loss of sensation in the affected body part. The young, elderly, and patients with certain medical conditions (diabetes, hypothyroidism, circulatory problems, and psychiatric illnesses), are more susceptible to cold weather-related injuries. People who abuse alcohol and illicit drug user are also at risk for cold weather-related injuries.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system due to damage to the myelin sheath around nerves. It is the most acquired nerve disease (neuropathy) and usually follows a virus infection but can also be associated with immunizations, surgery, and childbirth. The cause is unknown but appears to be related to autoimmune reaction. Symptoms include weakness beginning in the legs and progressing upward, lost reflexes, and in severe cases, breathing can be affected. Patients can expect a slow but progressive recovery over several months maintaining vital functions and passively exercising the muscles. Plasmapheresis (removing toxic substances from the blood) has been shown to improve outcomes and shorten the disease as well as intravenous immunoglobulin.
Leprosy (Hansen's disease) is a disfiguring disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. The disease is spread from person to person through nasal secretions or droplets. Symptoms and signs of leprosy include numbness, loss of temperature sensation, painless ulcers, eye damage, loss of digits, and facial disfigurement. Leprosy is treated with antibiotics and the dosage and length of time of administration depends upon which form of leprosy the patient has.
A Morton's neuroma is an inflamed nerve between the bones at the ball of the foot. Symptoms include a burning, sharp pain on the bottom of the foot. Treatment involves resting the foot, wearing better-fitting shoes, ice packs, and cortisone injection.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that leads to ongoing pain symptoms. Patients can be predisposed to developing neuropathic pain who have conditions such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, HIV, vitamin deficiencies, shingles, and multiple sclerosis. Patient history and nerve testing are used to diagnose neuropathic pain. Antidepressants, antiseizure medications, and other types of medications are used to treat neuropathic pain. Many people with neuropathic pain are able to attain some level of relief.
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet. Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to cold. Occurring as a result of spasm of blood vessels, the cause is unknown. Symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon depend on the severity, frequency, and duration of the blood vessel spasm. Treatments include protection of the digits, medications, and avoiding emotional stresses, smoking, cold temperature, and tools that vibrate the hands.
Sciatica pain, caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically radiates from the low back to behind the thigh to below the knee. Disc herniation is usually the cause of sciatica. Medication to alleviate pain, physical therapy, and bed rest are treatments for sciatica.
Vasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy a condition in which nerve damage has occurred as a complication of diabetes. The pain from the nerve damage can be severe with tingling or numbness in the part of the body affected. Diabetic neuropathy can occur anywhere in the body. Diabetic neuropathy can cause symptoms like intense pain, numbness, burning, or tingling in the part of the body affected by the condition. There are four types of neuropathy include peripheral, autonomic, proximal and focal. Natural therapies and medications may help relieve the pain and other symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
What Is Paresthesia and What Causes It?
Paresthesia is a tingling or numb sensation that most people have experienced. Learn the signs of paresthesia, what causes paresthesia, how doctors diagnose paresthesia, and what you can do to treat paresthesia.