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If you’re experiencing a pain and discomfort in your feet, you should see a doctor

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Your feet have the important job of getting you from one place to another, but you probably don’t give them much thought unless you need them or are specifically looking at them. However, when your feet start tingling, it’s hard to focus on anything else.

Even though the term “tingling feet” isn’t officially recognized in the medical field, doctors undoubtedly understand what it means. Melissa Lockwood, DPM, a podiatrist at Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates in Bloomington, Illinois, says there are a few different ways it can manifest. “It can feel like your foot fell asleep and you’re trying to wake it up, or it can feel like your foot is completely numb,” she explains. There will be times when it hurts and burns like hell.

The answer to this question may vary widely from one individual to the next. Ilan Danan, MD, a sports neurologist and pain management specialist at the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, says that his patients often describe their symptoms as “pins and needles,” “a buzzing or burning sensation,” or some combination of these.

If your feet were tingling before but are fine now, it’s probably nothing serious. However, according to Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD, professor and chairman of neurology at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, it’s important to get checked out if your symptoms don’t go away, they come and go, or you have certain health conditions like diabetes and you’re having tingling in your feet.

Dr. Danan says that tingling feet are not always a sign of a serious medical problem and can be caused by something as innocuous as sitting in an unusual position. Tingling in the feet, however, can be caused by a few different medical issues. Be aware of these.

Experts, please introduce yourself. Dr. Melissa Lockwood has been practicing podiatry for over 15 years. She was honored with the Mildred Kaufman Memorial Award for Proficiency in Orthopedics and Biomechanics from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, among others.

Dr. Ilan Danan specializes in sports neurology and pain intervention. Among the many groups he belongs to for professional development, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine are two of his favorites.

Symptomatic of: 1. Diabetes

When blood glucose levels rise too high, diabetes develops. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 30.3. million people in the United States are affected by it (NIDDK).

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says that high blood sugar can harm not only nerve fibers but also the tiny blood vessels that nourish the nerves in the periphery. (Peripheral nerves are those located outside of the brain and spinal cord.) This can hinder the transmission of signals along your nerve fibers, leaving you with an uncomfortable tingling sensation.

Increased thirst and urination are two other symptoms that can appear, as reported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

higher levels of hunger and exhaustion

the inability to see clearly

issues with wounds that won’t heal, numbness, or tingling in the extremities

unexplained weight loss

Early detection and treatment with blood sugar control may be able to alleviate the numbness. However, Dr. Danan warns that if left untreated for too long, permanent nerve damage can result.

2. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (MS)

In accordance with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, multiple sclerosis is a disorder of the central nervous system (NINDS). Myelin is a protective covering for nerves that is attacked by the immune system in people with multiple sclerosis. That can lead to a range of symptoms, including tingling, muscle weakness, and fatigue.

Dr. Lockwood explains that tingling can be brought on when the myelin sheath isn’t functioning or present as it should be. MS can’t be cured, but getting on proper treatment like biologic medications may help control the symptoms.

3. Hypothyroidism

According to the Cleveland Clinic, hypothyroidism is characterized by an insufficiency of thyroid hormones in the blood. Symptoms of a slowed metabolism include fatigue, weight gain, and an inability to tolerate cold.

The tingling feeling in your feet due to hypothyroidism is “likely caused by tissue swelling that puts pressure on the nerve fibers,” Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says. Hypothyroidism is usually treated by taking a medication called levothyroxine, which increases the amount of thyroid hormone your body produces, per the Cleveland Clinic.

4. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

According to Dr. Lockwood, tarsal tunnel syndrome is like carpal tunnel syndrome, but with your feet. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that pain, tingling, and numbness in the foot are all symptoms of a condition caused by compression of the posterior tibial nerve (which is located in your foot).

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid injections into the tarsal tunnel to reduce inflammation and pain. Surgery may be required in more serious situations.

5. Kidney Failure

According to the Mayo Clinic, when your kidneys fail, you no longer have any significant kidney function. The kidneys are unable to remove waste products from the blood, which can cause an imbalance in the blood’s chemical composition.

The Mayo Clinic reports that, in addition to foot tingling, other symptoms can include decreased urination, fluid retention, difficulty breathing, and weakness. Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says that tingling in the feet can be caused by chronic kidney failure because “nerve fibers can be damaged.” Treatment usually involves IV fluids, medication to control potassium in your blood, and dialysis to remove toxins from your blood.

Rheumatoid arthritis ranks sixth among the many types of arthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. Joint pain and swelling are possible side effects. According to the American College of Rheumatology, RA affects about 1.3 million people in the United States.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says that rheumatoid arthritis can “cause inflammation around nerve tissue,” leading to the compression of nerves. Drugs like NSAIDs and DMARDs are used in treatment (DMARDs).

7. Lupus Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can affect any part of the body and cause inflammation and pain. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Many different symptoms may be brought on by this condition, which primarily affects the skin, joints, and internal organs.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says lupus is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in that both conditions can cause tingling in the feet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lupus can be treated with a number of different drugs (CDC).

Occurrence of Shingles

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (the same one that leads to chickenpox), according to the CDC. Chickenpox leaves the virus dormant in the body, but it can reactivate at a later time, causing shingles.

Pain, itching, and tingling are all symptoms of shingles, a painful rash that typically affects only one side of the body. Dr. Danan describes the condition as “an attack on the nerves,” noting that some patients experience persistent tingling or burning in their feet long after they have fully recovered. The antiviral drugs acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are used to treat shingles.

9. Alcoholic Neuropathy

Intense alcohol consumption can cause nerve damage, a condition known as alcoholic neuropathy. That can bring on numbness or tingling in the limbs. Dr. Dhib-Jalbut speculates that the direct toxic effect of alcohol on nerve fibers may be involved in the mechanism.

In most cases, these symptoms cannot be reversed, according to Dr. Lockwood. “Once you develop this, you’re at your new baseline.”

The Tenth Illness: Charcot-Marie-Tooth


Damage to the peripheral nerves is the result of tooth disease (CMT), a group of extremely rare disorders. People with CMT usually develop progressive muscle weakness and may have smaller, weaker muscles, per the Mayo Clinic. Consequences include numbness, cramping, and gait problems.

To quote Dr. Dhib-Jalbut, “CMT affects the structure and function of peripheral nerves,” which is why people with this disorder often experience tingling in their nerves. Although there is currently no treatment that can reverse the effects of CMT, patients may find some relief from nerve pain medication and orthotic walking aids.