Numb toes feel like they’ve “fallen asleep,” and there may be tingling or burning, according to a paper published in the journal “American Family Physician.” It occurs when blood supply to your toes is decreased, and can be caused by factors such as infection, inflammation, a degenerative disease or snug shoes. Toe numbness could also happen due to diabetic nerve damage or spinal injury. If it persists, consult your doctor. Depending on the cause, your doctor can recommend different treatments, including a few natural ones.
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Shoes that are too small or have pointy toe boxes squeeze your toes together and cut off blood circulation. When buying shoes, make sure there’s wiggle room at the top. Also, shoes should match your pronation — the way your feet strike the ground as you walk. Your foot’s arch height affects pronation. For instance, people with flat feet tend to roll their feet inward as they walk, while people with high arches roll their feet outward. Look for stores or pharmacies that can assess your gait for you using special electronic devices, or consult a physiotherapist.
When an injury such as toe numbness occurs, especially in chronic cases such as diabetic neuropathy, it can be difficult for you to do your job, especially if it involves standing. Occupational therapy is a holistic practice geared towards helping people recover from illness or injury so they can effectively perform daily activities and do their jobs. Some occupational therapists work with patients in a particular field, such as arthritis or spinal cord injury. They can advise you on workplace safety precautions, exercises to strengthen muscles and coping skills.
A lack of physical activity can reduce blood circulation to your toes. Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes at least four days a week to improve your circulation. When exercising, wear comfortable-fitting shoes with a wide toe box, and good support and cushioning. Whenever possible, perform low-impact exercises such as cycling or walking to reduce the impact on your feet and toes.
Sitting with your legs or ankles crossed for prolonged periods can also hamper circulation in your feet and toes. If possible, put your feet up when you’re sitting down, and wiggle your toes tow or three times daily for about 5 minutes, advises Foot.com. Moving your ankles up and down and in and out will also keep blood flowing to your feet and legs.
- Healthline: Toe Numbness
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Paresthesias: A Practical Diagnostic Approach
- American Occupational Therapy Association: For Clients and Patients
- Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists: What Is Occupational Therapy
- American Occupational Therapy Association: Living with Spinal Cord Injury
- Foot.com: The Diabetic Foot