Foot Conditions A-Z

Neuropathy / Numbness

Neuropathy / Numbness

Neuropathy (damage to the nerves) due to diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) is the most common cause of numbness in the feet. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have experienced numbness or tingling in your feet, it is likely that you have diabetic neuropathy. The condition can also cause burning pain and weakness in the muscles of the feet that interferes with your ability to function comfortably.

The greatest danger of extended numbness and lack of sensation is unrecognized trauma to the feet.  Damage goes unrecognized because you don’t feel pain (or any sensation) in the affected area. This is especially dangerous for people with diabetes, and can lead to ulceration, infection, and possibly even amputation in severe cases. 

According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment conducted for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health by the NPD Group, 7 percent of U.S. adults age 21 and older (about 16 million people) have experienced numbness in their feet.

About the illustration: Nylon monofilament test for numbness or lack of sensitivity in the feet: A 10 gauge nylon monofilament attached to a handle is pressed against the foot at multiple separate locations with just enough pressure to bend the filament.  If the person feels the filament at each location, he or she is directed to say "yes."  Inability to feel the filament at any of the locations indicates loss of protective sensation in that area.

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