Numbness in Bottom of Foot? 5 Causes and Solutions

Do You Get Numbness In The Bottom Of Your Foot?

In this post, you'll learn 5 causes of numbness in the bottom of the foot, plus how to relieve it.

Causes Of Numbness In Bottom Of Foot

If you get numbness in the bottom of your feet, you may worry that it's something serious.

There are, in fact, serious issues that can cause numbness in the bottom of your feet, but most of the time, it's not due to a serious health issue.

However, numbness in the bottom of your feet is a sign that you should do something about it.

That's because the longer numbness goes untreated, the higher the chance that it can become a permanent problem.

Therefore, it's important to figure out what's causing your foot numbness so that you can treat it properly.

The most common causes of numbness in the bottom of the feet are:

  1. Peripheral Neuropathy
  2. Central Nervous System Disorder
  3. Plantar nerve compression
  4. Tarsal tunnel syndrome (tibial neuropathy)
  5. Pinched nerves in the lower back

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common cause of numbness in the the bottom of your foot, especially if you:

  • you have diabetes
  • have numbness in both feet

Diabetes mellitus is when your blood sugar gets too high.  Persistently high blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels that supply your nerves, causing nerve damage or neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is most often causes symptoms in the small nerves in your hands and  feet.

This pattern of numbness is referred to as a "stocking and glove" pattern due to the location of symptoms.

Therefore, diabetes can cause numbness in the bottom of your foot.

Other things can cause peripheral neuropathy though.

Your nerves need blood flow to be healthy.

So if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD) or other cardiovascular problems, that can also affect the nerves in your feet.

Additionally,  B vitamin deficiencies - especially B6 and B12 - can cause foot numbness.

Deficiencies in minerals such as copper, calcium, and magnesium can also cause numbness in the bottom of your feet.

How to help numbness in feet from peripheral neuropathy

Diet an exercise are key to treating peripheral neuropathy.

Eating a diet that is low in sugar and abundant in fruits and vegetables helps control blood sugar and prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Additionally, getting aerobic exercise helps with blood sugar control and heart and vascular health.

Central Nervous System Disorders

The second cause of numbness in the bottom of your feet is a central nervous system disorder.

This can be residual effects after having a stroke or a central nervous system disorder, such as multiple sclerosis.

If you have one of those, it's best to manage with your neurologist.

I'm not going to cover solutions in this post.

But just for completeness, problems with your central nervous system – your brain or spinal cord – can also cause numbness in your feet.

Plantar Nerve Compression

plantar nerve compression is one of the causes of numbness in the bottom of the foot

The sensation on the bottom of your feet comes from the medial and lateral plantar nerves.

Both of those come through the inner side of the ankle through an area called the tarsal tunnel – which we'll discuss further in the next section.

If you overpronate a lot you can step on the branches of the medial and/or lateral plantar nerve at they pass under your foot.

Therefore, it's important to prevent overpronation when walking or running.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The medial and lateral plantar nerves discussed above are both branches of the tibial nerve.

The tibial nerve runs down the calf along the inside of the ankle though an area referred to as the tarsal tunnel.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is one of the causes of numbness in the bottom of the foot

Irritation of this nerve is is known as tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Pinched Nerve In Lower Back

Moving even farther up, the sciatic nerve is formed from the nerve roots of the L4, L5, S1, and S2 nerves.

These nerve roots come from your lower back, and each of them has its own pattern of pain, numbness, and weakness.

The L4 nerve root (white with red dots in the image below) refers symptoms down the inside of the lower leg (shin) and foot as well as the big toe.

lumbar nerve root distributions

The L5 nerve root (yellow region in photo) can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the buttock, and toes 2, 3, and 4.

The S1 and S2 nerve roots causes symptoms in the outer lower leg and the outside of the foot and the little toe.

the medial and lateral plantar nerves are causes of numbness in toes

As you can see, the L4 and L5 nerve roots supply the medial plantar nerve, and the S1 and S2 nerves make up the lateral plantar nerves, so it's easy to understand how these nerve roots can cause numbness in the bottom of the foot.

There are lots of things that can cause pinched nerves in the lower back, but herniated discs and spinal stenosis are two common problems.

How To Relieve Numbness In The Bottom Of The Foot

Foot Numbness From The Lower Back

If your foot numbness is coming from your lower back, there are many things that can cause it.

However in people over the age of 40 or 50, degenerative disc disease or lumbar spinal stenosis are the most common causes.

When you stand with a lot of arch in your lower back, that narrow the spaces where those nerve roots come out.

anterior pelvic tilt and increased lumbar lordosis posture

If you get numbness in the bottom of your feet when you're standing and when you're walking, try to stand with your pelvis tilted as shown below.

standing pelvic tilt exercise

This flattens your lower back and opens up the spaces where those L4, L5, and S1 nerve roots exit your spine.

That in turn can help relieve foot numbness.

Additionally, walking with a very slight forward trunk lean can also help open up the spaces where the nerves come out of your lower back.

That's why you see many people with spinal stenosis walking leaned over a grocery cast.

Foot Numbness From Overpronation

If you overpronate or flattens your foot too much, that can cause compression of the nerves either at the tarsal tunnel or on the bottom of the foot.

pronation and supination

Therefore, walking domed can help prevent numbness in the bottom of your foot when you're walking.

walking with your arch lifted can prevent numbness in the bottom of your foot.

If you have stiff calves, stretching your calves can also help prevent foot numbness.

However, you want to be careful that you don't allow your foot to flatten when stretching your calves.

calf stretch wrong side view

Keep your arch domes when stretching  your calves.

calf stretch correct

Just go as far as you can keeping the arch lifted and the heel on the floor

Hold for 1-2 minutes.

Hip weakness can contribute to foot numbness

Additionally, if your hips are weak, that can cause your foot to flatten down too much as you're walking.

To correct this, practicing standing with your arch lifted and your knee slightly turned out.

strengthening exercise for ankle #2 - single leg balance with arch lift

This helps strengthen both your foot arch and hip muscles at the same time.

If you're just starting out practicing this, it may be helpful to hold onto something for balance.  This is both for safety as well as to help you have some early success.

As you get better at doing it, you can gradually let go and maintain your balance on your own.

Nerve Glides for Numbness in Foot

Finally, doing nerve glides to help get your entire nervous system moving better.

This exercise moves your sciatica/tibial/plantar nerves as well as increases circulation in your leg.

Your nerves need movement and blood flow to be healthy.

To do a nerve glide, you want to start out by leaning forward

Then straighten your leg out at the knee and pull your toes up towards you.

This tensions your nerve. Only go as far as you can comfortably.

Then return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

Need Treatment For Numbness In The Bottom Of Your Foot?

If you've tried some of the tips in this post and need more help for numbness in the bottom of your foot, we'd be happy to help.

Just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of ours specialists.

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