Foot paresthesia that gives a needle pricking sensation may be caused due to diabetes, poor blood circulation or tarsal tunnel syndrome. To know more about the causes of this medical condition, read on…
The term ‘paresthesia’ often refers to abnormal sensations occurring in a specific part of the body. When they affect the feet, the condition is referred to as foot paresthesia. The unusual sensation associated with foot paresthesia is often compared to thousand pins pricking the skin at the same time. In some cases, it triggers numbness in the feet. This feeling is similar to loss of sensation, but is usually temporary. Cold sensation in feet, better known as cold feet, can also be due to paresthesia.
Poor Blood Circulation
Restricted blood flow to the lower extremities can trigger ‘pins and needle’ feeling in the feet. Sitting in an awkward position with legs crossed obstructs blood circulation to the feet, which may cause symptoms of paresthesia. Thus, when normal blood supply to the feet is hindered, the person is bound to experience foot paresthesia. Poor blood circulation can also result from atherosclerosis, a condition that damages the arteries. Cholesterol buildup in the arteries over the years makes these blood carriers narrower and inflexible. So, if atherosclerosis affects the foot arteries, it inhibits blood circulation, eventually causing tingling and numbness in hands and feet.
Diabetic patients complaining frequently about foot paresthesia indicates that their chronic condition has gone ‘out of control’. As we all know, avoiding high sugar foods and following an exercise routine is essential for diabetics. However, if this is ignored, blood sugar levels rise to alarmingly high levels. It is a known fact that nerves run through the blood vessels. Theories suggest that excess sugar induces a chemical reaction somewhere in the close proximity of the nerves. This can compress the nerves considerably.
Another possibility that doctors believe is that high sugar levels might be destroying protective covering of the nerve, referred to as myelin sheath. The destruction of myelin sheath can also cause nerve damage. Nerves initiate muscle movement as well as supply sensation to the desired part of the body. In case of foot paresthesia, if the nerve found somewhere around the ankles which provides sensation to the foot, is damaged due to diabetes, it can cause unusual sensations similar to foot paresthesia. Depending upon the severity of nerve damage, the burning sensation can occur on both sides of the feet (bilateral paresthesia) or affect just one side (lateral paresthesia).
A physical trauma that damages the nerve situated near the ankle can also cause tingling feet. Even if the foot or heel injury does not damage the nerves, it can definitely irritate the nerves, making it incapable to supply sensation correctly, thereby predisposing a person to paresthesia symptoms. Stubbing the ankles, an ankle sprain or fracture can inflict damage to the foot nerve, resulting in foot paresthesia.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
The tarsal tunnel near the ankle bone is a narrow pathway that allows the tibial nerve and veins to pass through it. People diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome suffer from pinched tibial nerve. The compression of the tibial nerve that travels along the heel and the soles can cause burning and tingling sensation in the feet. People with flat feet tend to put excessive strain on the tibial nerve, which may lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Because the causes of foot paresthesia are varied, identifying the underlying cause is crucial to tackle tingling and numbness in feet. Diabetics need to strictly follow the guidelines regarding diet and discard sedentary lifestyle in order to control foot paresthesia effectively. Surgical procedures like angioplasty or bypass surgery may also be employed to open the foot artery to resume blood flow.
Taking adequate rest, intake of pain killers, application of ice and use of orthotic devices that are placed at the base of the shoes to provide proper support to the foot, are some of the treatment methods to manage pain associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome. And, it is always best to consult your doctor in the wake of the above mentioned symptoms and follow his/her instructions to the word.