How to Know if You Have Neuropathy in Your Feet

Foot neuropathy indicates some kind of a problem or malfunction with the small nerve fibers of the feet. Symptoms of neuropathy include pain (burning, electric and/or shooting in nature), tingling, numbness and/or muscle weakness in the feet.[1] Quite often, peripheral neuropathy affects both feet, but not always, as it depends on the cause. Common causes of foot neuropathy include uncontrolled diabetes, advanced alcoholism, infection, vitamin deficiency, kidney disease, foot tumors, trauma, drug overdose and exposure to certain poisons[2]Recognizing the signs and symptoms of foot neuropathy will certainly give you a better idea of what’s causing your foot problem, but only a qualified health professional can let you know for sure.

1. Pay more attention to your feet. You might assume that some loss of sensation or sporadic tingling in your feet is a normal and expected part of aging, but it’s not. Instead, it’s an early sign that the small sensory nerves in your feet aren’t working properly.[3] As such, examine your feet more often and compare the ability to feel light touch there with other parts of your body, such as your thighs or hands.

  • Use a pencil or pen to lightly stroke your feet (top and bottom) to see if you can feel it — better yet, close your eyes and ask a friend to do it.
  • Loss of sensation/vibration usually begins in the toes and slowly spreads up the foot and eventually the leg.
  • In the U.S., the most common cause of foot neuropathy is diabetes — 60–70% of diabetics will develop neuropathy within their lifetimes.

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