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QI’VE noticed tingling in both my big toes around the joint, also in the ball of my foot, though it isn’t as bad there. There is also a very slight numbness in the right toe. It’s been going on for some time but I don’t remember for how long. I’ve looked online and found references to diabetes, MS and nerve damage. I’m not particularly fat so I don’t think it’s diabetes. I am 45.
ATINGLING and numbness in the toes is usually due to conditions that affect the nerves or blood vessels that supply the foot.
It is true that this can occur in multiple sclerosis, though it would be incredibly rare for this to present only with symptoms in the feet.
Similarly, the damage to nerves that can occur with diabetes can cause numbness and pins and needles, but this usually only occurs in people who have had diabetes for several years and, again, it would be incredibly unusual for it to be the only symptoms of the disease.
The most common cause of toe numbness is pressure on the nerves of the foot from ill-fitting footwear and I often see it in women who wear narrow, pointed-toed shoes, particularly with a high heel.These push the foot forwards, crushing the toes and pressing on both nerves and blood vessels.
Having bunions, where the joint at the base of the big toe becomes deformed, can make the problem worse – they often start developing in women in their mid-40s.
An easy way to tell if your footwear might be to blame is to stand bare-footed on a piece of paper, and draw an outline of your foot (it may be easier to get someone to do this for you).Then get a shoe and place it on top. If you can see your foot outline then your shoes are too narrow.
Treat your feet to some wide, flat shoes that give your toes room to wriggle.
Wear these every day and reserve high-heeled, narrow ones for special occasions only.
If you have a health question for Dr Leonard, email her in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr Leonard regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence or reply to everyone.
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