Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my feet go numb when I walk for exercise?"
When I walk on a flat, packed gravel path or on a level treadmill both of my feet, starting with my left foot go numb after 10 minutes or so. The feeling in my feet alternates between numbness and pins-and-needles while I am walking. My shoes are not too small, in fact they may be slightly big. This does not occur when I walk on paved ground or through unpaved woods or grass. Is this caused by or causing nerve damage in my feet?
Nerve problems are common. There are many potential causes. I would recommend that you see your primary care doctor in order to have this evaluated. If appropriate, he or she may refer you to a neurologist for further studies, however an initial workup by your primary doctor should be done. Nerve problems are medically known as neuropathy. There are two types of neuropathy -- local and diffuse. The fact that you have it in both feet might suggest that this is a diffuse process. Local neuropathies are caused by physical compression of the nerve (like hitting your funny bone which is pinching the ulnar nerve). While possible that both foot nerves are getting pinched, this is less likely. There are a few causes of diffuse neuropathy. The most common is diabetes -- talk to your doctor if you have this. Other common causes are: thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies (like low vitamin b12 levels), infection with lyme disease or even syphilis. Other more rare causes include myeloma or amyloid. The fact that it hurts with walking is a concern. It could also mean there is inflammation in the muscle (and not the nerves). Talk to your doctor. A careful exam can help determine the cause and treatment of this. Good luck!
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