Toe numbness
Sensations are carried from the extremities of the body to the brain via neurons in the spinal cord. If the blood supply to the nerves is decre...

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Definition

Toe numbness is an abnormal sensation caused by an alteration in sensory nerve function in the toes.

Alternative Names

Numb toes, numbness in toes, numbness of toes, tingling toes, parasthesia of toes.

Synopsis

Sensations are carried from the extremities of the body to the brain via neurons in the spinal cord. If the blood supply to the nerves is decreased, it can produce the feeling that "my toe fell asleep". If the blood loss is permanent or severe, it is called ischemia and can result in permanent nerve damage. Nerves in the toes or feet can be damaged when the blood supply is decreased over time, as in diabetes. Poorly fitted shoes or walking in an unusual gait may cause toe numbness. Numbness in a toe may represent a nerve problem higher up in the nerve pathway, including the spinal cord.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Trauma
  • Frostbite
  • Beriberi
  • Diabetic nerve damage
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Snake bites
  • Neuralgias
  • Rabies
  • Radiculopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Toxin exposure or poisoning
  • Stroke
  • Necrotizing vasculitis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Malnutrition

Diagnosis and Treatments

If toe numbness is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness and pain, it requires thorough evaluation by a physician. A complete history and physical, including family history, work history, laboratory tests may be indicated. Nerve conduction velocity tests, electromyography, imaging studies and nerve biopsy may be required. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and what is determined to relieve symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy as well as stretching exercises may help alleviate symptoms once the underlying cause is found and treated.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: September 19, 2007
Last Updated: September 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
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