At some point of time, many people would have had tingling sensation in legs and hands. It is quite a common symptom that happens if you have kept your legs crossed for long duration. Considerable pressure would develop on the nerves during that time and cause numbness or tingling in feet. It may cause “pins and needles” effect for few seconds which is relieved once you start moving your legs. The above episode is temporary and develops simply due to exertion of pressure on the joints of legs. But there are occasions when the symptom becomes chronic and bothersome.
Tingling in feet is sometimes accompanied with other signs like pain, numbness, twitching of muscles, weakness and difficulty in walking. In more severe cases it can also cause change in mental alertness, change in vision and dizziness. In such condition immediate medical attention is necessary. Nerve damage can occur due to peripheral neuropathy and nerves on the brain or spinal cord can get affected on such occasions. The actual cause has to be identified and controlled to prevent any potential complications. Millions of elderly people in America have such tingling sensation in feet due to nerve damage. Treatment is given based on the cause and making lifestyle modifications and eating a balanced diet.
Signs and Symptoms :
Tingling sensation in feet may come and go in many cases but for some people it can become chronic problem affecting the quality of life. Tingling in feet/hand can be accompanied with other signs like pain, itching, muscle spasms and difficulty in walking. In more severe cases symptoms like dizziness, confusion and loss of bladder control would be there. Prompt medical care is required in such cases. Tingling feet occasionally without any other symptom can be ignored but if you have some of the symptoms given above it can be due to nerve damage on the spine or brain. Only your doctor will be able to identify such issues.
- Peripheral Neuropathy :
Nerve pressure for prolonged time can cause tingling of feet which may last for few seconds. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common factor for tingling feeling in diabetic people. Due to increased level of blood sugar, nerve damage can occur anywhere in the body. If nerve damage occurs in the feet it can cause “pins and needles” or numbness in the feet. More than 30% of the cases diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy have diabetes for long term. Tingling sensation may initially start in the feet and progress to the legs and even on the hands.
- Deficiency of vitamins :
Vitamin deficiency can affect the normal function of the nerves causing tingling. Systemic diseases like liver damage, kidney problem, blood disorders and connective tissue disorders can cause nerve damage.
- Alcoholism :
Too much consumption of alcohol can seriously affect the nerve function. Heavy metal poisoning like lead, mercury and arsenic poison can cause tingling feeling.
- Severe Infections :
Infections like shingles, Lyme disease and herpes simplex and HIV infection can cause this symptom.
- Trauma :
Injury on the feet can cause nerve pain and compression producing tingling sensation.
Based on the symptoms, your doctor would check for any neurological disorder and order for few tests like blood sample (to rule out liver problem and vitamin deficiency), and nerve conduction test and electromyogram test. He may also test the sample of cerebrospinal fluid collected by biopsy to check and confirm peripheral neuropathy.
Treatment for tingling of feet depends on the cause. For people with prolonged diabetes, peripheral neuropathy can be the actual cause. In such cases, blood sugar level is kept under control to prevent further damage of nerves. Those diagnosed with vitamin deficiency are advised to take supplementary vitamins daily. Prescription drugs are given for severe cases of peripheral neuropathy. Medications given for controlling seizures are effective in treating neuropathy. By making small changes in lifestyle and quitting smoking/drinking one can prevent further nerve damage in the body.