Have you been feeling some tingling and numbness in one or both of your feet? The first time or two, it may just feel like your foot has fallen asleep. That pins-and-needles sensation isn’t exactly pleasant, but as long as it passes quickly usually isn’t anything too worrisome. However, if you’ve noticed consistent tingling and numbness in your feet that seems to stick around for a bit and make frequent returns, there could be something larger at play.
Just what causes your feet to tingle?
There are several different possibilities that could produce the tingling sensation. From issues with your piriformis to a herniated disc to a simple pinched nerve, the spectrum of possibilities for this symptom is wide. But don’t fret!
In this article, we’ll help outline the most common culprits for this familiar symptom in an effort to help guide you toward the best care to find real relief.
Sciatica and Its Role in Nerve Pain
One of the primary culprits for foot tingling and numbness is sciatica. Sciatica is very common and is the pain that follows the sciatic nerve, beginning in your lower back and running through your hips, glute, and down your leg to the foot. This nervy sensation can range from uncomfortable to bizarre to debilitatingly painful.
Generally, sciatica chooses one side to plague at a time. It flares up when the sciatic nerve gets pinched. And, there are several common ways for a nerve to become pinched, namely with a herniated disc or as a result of piriformis syndrome.
Our spines are comprised of stacks of vertebrae (or small bones, 24 of them to be exact!) and between each one are flat round “pads”, also called “discs.” These discs serve as little shock absorbers to help protect our spine during day-to-day and dynamic movements, and each one has a tougher outer cartilage ring and a softer, gel-like center. When a disc herniates, the soft-center portion is pushed through the outer cartilage edge. Ouch.
Once a disc has herniated, the displacement can put pressure on the nerves within the spine, causing an array of referral patterns. When a herniated disc is located closer to the lumbar or lower back region, it can cause tingling in one glute, leg, or foot.
What should you do if you have a herniated disc? As frustrating as it may seem, oftentimes good old fashioned rest is the best answer. Of course, we urge you to do this with the supervision of a medical professional who can help guide your recovery with an appropriate mix of rest and rehab.
Another common cause of sciatic nerve pain is piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a band-like muscle that runs diagonally from the midline base of your spine to the outer hip bone. This means that it’s responsible for any hip rotation as well as the turning of your legs and feet. It helps us walk, stabilizes our movement, and overall helps us maintain balance and control of movement. In short, it’s a pretty well-used muscle – and one you should be keen to protect.
Where the piriformis can cause trouble is in its proximity to the sciatic nerve, as the sciatic nerve literally runs through the piriformis. This means that when the piriformis becomes overused, tired, or tight, it can also compress and pinch the sciatic nerve pretty easily, causing that referral pain to travel down from the lower back all the way to your feet.
The good news is that most encounters with piriformis syndrome respond very well to conservative care. With a mixture of rest, ice, and the correct rehabilitative exercises prescribed by a licensed professional, most people feel significant relief. Keep in mind it’s always best to seek medical help for a sound diagnosis and to understand your treatment options.
Other Causes of Foot Tingling
Of course, there are other causes to foot tingling out there. For instance, those who suffer from diabetes may be at risk for diabetic neuropathy, which can occur during bouts of very high blood sugar. This neuropathy damages nerves that send normal signals to your extremities, including your feet, and causing numbness and tingling. The sensation may even begin to feel like a mild burn. If you have diabetes and are experiencing foot tingling and numbness, it’s imperative to contact your doctor immediately, as diabetic neuropathy can quickly take a turn for the worse.
On another note, some women also experience this tingling sensation in their feet during pregnancy. With the massive changes that their bodies undergo, the shifting of the uterus may put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing that all too familiar pins-and-needles sensation.
The moral of the story? If you’re experiencing tingling and numbness in your feet, don’t blow it off. Take it seriously and seek medical help immediately. It’s best to know for certain what you’re dealing with and have the right, informed help to guide you back to full health.
Can Chiropractic Help Resolve Tingling Feet?
Yes! Chiropractic care is an excellent option for treating tingling feet and here’s why: chiropractors are experts in understanding how the spine, vertebrae, and surrounding muscles and tissues interact. Additionally, chiropractic care relieves your symptoms while addressing the root cause of your feet tingling; it starts with a personalized plan based on your unique symptoms, patterns, and medical history. Treatment often includes adjustments of the spine, neck and extremities to help realign your body, decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to be more receptive to your natural healing process.
By working consistent chiropractic care into your routine, you could significantly reduce the lingering nerve discomfort that tends to come with conditions surrounding tingling feet, while putting your body in the best position to mend. That’s a huge win-win for your overall health and recovery.