Tingling in the Feet

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Tingling in the feet is a common symptom that can affect many people, causing pain, burning, or a pins-and-needle sensation. Symptoms may resolve when you change positions and move, which relieves pressure on your nerves.

When tingling in the feet persists and is unrelated to positional changes, other conditions may be causing nerve inflammation and irritation can result in tingling in the feet.

This article will describe symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of both common and unusual causes of tingling in the feet, plus when to see a healthcare provider.

young woman holding painful foot

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What Causes Tingling in the Feet?

There are some chronic conditions, such as diabetes, that may cause tingling in the feet. In other cases, tingling feet may occur because of temporary changes during pregnancy or due to medication. Idiopathic tingling in the hands and feet, meaning from an unknown cause, may require more time to diagnose.

These chronic medical conditions can cause tingling in the feet:

  • Diabetes: About 60%–70% of people living with diabetes suffer from diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the extremities caused by chronically high blood sugar levels). It causes numbness, tingling, burning, and pain in the feet and hands.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin sheath, a protective layer that surrounds the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, and leads to weakness, numbness, tingling, and nerve pain (often on one side of the body.
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is an inflammatory condition that damages the arteries that supply the extremities, particularly the legs and feet. Atherosclerosis from plaque buildup decreases blood flow and damages nerves, often with pain, numbness, and tingling.
  • Kidney failure, which results from chronic kidney disease, often causes neuropathy. About 90% of dialysis patients experience pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the feet.
  • Alcoholic neuropathy can result from prolonged alcohol use. Like peripheral neuropathy, alcoholic neuropathy causes nerve damage, pain, numbness, and tingling in affected areas of the body, which commonly includes the feet. 
  • Stroke occurs when there is decreased blood flow to the brain, resulting in brain and nerve damage, often affecting one side of the body. This can cause weakness, changes in muscle tone, pain, numbness, and tingling, often in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. 

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body produces an immune system response against its own healthy cells, causing widespread inflammation. These autoimmune conditions can cause tingling in the feet:

  • Celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, can result in pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet in addition to gastrointestinal distress. This can result in Raynaud's disease, too.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome affects the exocrine glands, or glands that produce sweat, tears, and saliva. It can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the feet.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a cause of pain and tingling in the feet. This results from the immune system attacking the joints and causes swelling and inflammation of nearby nerves.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome affects lower extremities (usually the feet). It can progress to the rest of the body, causing pain, tingling, and weakness, and become life-threatening.

Viral infections can attack nerve cells, causing damage that results in pain and tingling in the hands and feet. Some infections include:

Other Causes of Tingling in the Feet

In some cases, tingling in the feet may be due to a more temporary condition, or one that can be more easily resolved with time and therapy.

  • Pregnancy, due to increased pressure on the nerves of the lower lumbar spine, can lead to sciatic nerve compression.
  • Vitamin deficiencies can damage the nervous system. Deficiencies of vitamins B1, B6, B12, E, and copper have been specifically linked to peripheral neuropathy, which can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the feet.
  • Hypothyroidism, or decreased levels of thyroid hormones, can cause peripheral neuropathy if left untreated. Symptoms include pain, burning, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet.
  • Chemotherapy drugs (especially platinum-based) and certain other medications can cause neuropathy, with tingling in the hands and feet. Symptoms can sometimes be managed by changing the type or dose of the drug. Damaged nerves may heal after treatment.
  • Pinched nerve (radiculopathy) either from the low back, thigh, or leg can cause pain, numbness, and tingling due to nerve compression or irritation.
  • Toxin exposure can cause numbness, weakness, and tingling of the hands and feet, as with heavy metals like lead, thallium, and mercury.
  • Hyperventilation, or increased breathing rate often resulting from anxiety, can rapidly lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide levels of the blood, which can cause tingling in the hands and feet.

How Is Tingling in the Feet Diagnosed?

Your healthcare team will diagnose your tingling feet by taking a careful medical history and completing a thorough exam. In some cases, as with an anxiety diagnosis, no other tests may be needed. But for most conditions, your providers will consider a range of tests.

Blood tests are an invaluable tool for diagnosing a condition like hypothyroidism, which may be causing your tingling in the feet, or in correctly identifying an infection or vitamin deficiency. They're also used to check how well a person is managing their diabetes.

For other conditions, such as kidney failure, MS, or peripheral artery disease, blood tests may be used in conjunction with:

Sometimes tingling in the hands and feet can result from an unknown cause. A physical examination and tests like blood work, nerve conduction studies, and MRIs may be performed to rule out other conditions.

Treatment for Tingling Feet

Treatment for tingling feet will depend on the cause and your specific diagnosis. For some people, that may mean taking an antibiotic and resting at home while recovering from a viral infection.

For others, a life-changing condition will mean symptoms have to be managed through medication, therapy, and other strategies.

At Home

Some causes, like a vitamin deficiency, can be treated at home through dietary changes and supplements. Stretching exercises and physical therapy may help with a pinched nerve. People living with MS may find their symptoms come and go, and that it helps to limit their exposure to increased stress, hot temperatures, and fatigue in order to avoid flare-ups.

Or, if a toxin exposure has been identified, you may consider remediation of the home environment, if necessary, and avoiding the cause of your exposure.

Other possibilities include:

  • Breathing, meditation, and stress management techniques
  • Medication to treat a condition like hypothyroidism
  • Improved sleep hygiene to reduce discomfort in pregnant people
  • Special socks and foot massages to improve circulation
  • Supplements like ginger, which may reduce symptoms

If you have no clear diagnosis, your healthcare provider may suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication.

Treatment Options

People who experience tingling in the feet due to a chronic or more serious health condition will need to practice self-care at home, making lifestyle decisions like smoking cessation or diet changes that can improve their symptoms.

Depending on the cause, though, they are likely to need more comprehensive treatment. These may include:

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy, along with medication to treat people recovering from strokes
  • Cortisone injections and surgery, or physical therapy to treat a pinched nerve
  • Chelation therapy, sometimes used to treat lead or mercury toxicity
  • Kidney dialysis or transplant surgery in chronic kidney disease
  • Medication, such as biologics to treat autoimmune disorders, insulin for diabetes, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and corticosteroids in MS
  • Surgery to repair or replace blood vessels damaged by peripheral artery disease.
  • Psychotherapy or other mental health care to treat anxiety

Treatment may be aimed at slowing disease progression and managing underlying causes like high blood pressure and cholesterol that affect the overall diagnosis.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You should schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if you have been experiencing tingling in your feet that:

  • Causes significant pain
  • Limits your ability to walk and maintain your balance
  • Causes a decrease in sensation in your feet
  • Gets worse over time
  • Doesn’t go away

Tingling in your feet is a sign of nerve irritation and/or damage, and should be addressed by a healthcare provider to treat the underlying cause, if possible, or provide treatment options to help manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Tingling in the feet or other parts of the body that comes on suddenly and is not relieved by changing positions or moving can be a sign of a medical emergency.


Certain conditions can cause nerve inflammation and irritation that results in tingling in the feet, such as nerve compression, infections, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, certain medications, and more.

Treatment for tingling in the feet starts with treating the underlying cause to reduce inflammation and nerve irritation, typically through physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medication.

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, proper diet, and good hydration can help to reduce inflammation and limit symptoms. Your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate diagnosis of where the tingling in your feet is coming from to create a treatment plan that's right for you.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT
Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT, is a medical writer and a physical therapist at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey.