Tingling In Feet: 6 Common Causes You Should Know About

tingling in feet

If you have a desk job, you might have experienced numbness in the feet. This is quite common in people who sit in a single position for a long time as it puts pressure on the nerves. This, in turn, causes the feet to feel numb and even lead to pain (in some cases). However, the feeling usually subsides when you move or shift the position.

What Causes Tingling In Feet?

Diabetic neuropathy is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy that causes tingling in feet. It is common in people over 60 years of age. But to rule out health problems responsible for tingling of feet, your doctor will do a detailed physical exam followed by medical tests.

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Here are some of the common health problems that cause tingling in feet.

1. Diabetic Neuropathy: One of the common health complications caused due to diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. It is a condition in which the nerves are damaged due to uncontrolled blood sugar level. The common symptom of diabetic neuropathy is persistent tingling in the feet. It is shown that around 10% to 20% of patients with diabetes report peripheral neuropathy at the time of diagnosis. Moreover, around 26% diabetics have peripheral neuropathy after 5 years of diagnosis, which increases to 41% after ten years.

2. Pregnancy: Some women might experience tingling in feet during pregnancy. As the uterus grows, it leads to the pressure on the nerves that run down the legs leading to pins and needles in the legs. However, tingling caused due to pregnancy can be relieved by resting with your feet, changing positions, and making sure you are well hydrated as it increases blood circulation. You should consult a doctor if tingling worsens or is accompanied by weakness or swelling to rule out any other health problem.

3. Vitamin Deficiencies: Lack of vitamins can also cause pins and needles in the feet. It could be due to a poor diet which lacks essential nutrients or due to an underlying health problem that causes vitamin deficiency. One of the common vitamin deficiencies that cause tingling in feet is B-complex vitamins. Some of the common signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, feeling cold in hands and feet, etc. 

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4. Pinched nerve: People suffering from pinched nerve also experience tingling in feet. It could be due to pressure on the nerves in the back following an injury or swelling. It can also cause symptoms such as pain in the legs, increased or decreased sensation in the feet, and decreased mobility. Tests to look at muscle activity such as electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction velocity might be recommended to diagnose pinched nerve. 

5. Kidney failure: Kidney failure can cause tingling in feet which is attributed to increased blood sugar level and blood pressure. Diabetes and hypertension are one of the common causes of kidney disease, which if left untreated can cause kidney failure. Some of the common signs and symptoms that indicate your kidneys are in danger include cramping or twitching in the muscles, muscle weakness, and pain and numbness in the feet. 

6. Infections: Tingling in feet might be a sign of nerve damage which is mostly caused due to repetitive stress injuries or strain on the nerves. However, in certain cases, it can also lead to inflammation of the nerves followed by bacterial or viral infections. Some of the common infections that cause pins and needles in the feet include shingles, hepatitis B and C, leprosy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and Lyme disease.

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So do consult a doctor if you experience persistent tingling in feet coupled with pain and swelling to know the cause of the underlying condition or rule out any possible health complications.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

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1. Bodman MA, Varacallo M. Diabetic Neuropathy. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan.

2. Korpinen L, Pääkkönen R, Gobba F. Self-Reported Ache, Pain, or Numbness in Feet and Use of Computers amongst Working-Age Finns. Healthcare (Basel). 2016 Nov 7;4(4). pii: E82.

3. Wolf SL, Barton DL, Qin R, et al. The relationship between numbness, tingling, and shooting/burning pain in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) as measured by the EORTC QLQ-CIPN20 instrument, N06CA. Support  Care Cancer. 2012 Mar;20(3):625-32.

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