Why Are my Toes Numb?
Frequently patients suspect they have sciatica, because the toes on one or both feet are numb. Occasionally after examining the back, hips, legs and feet we conclude they are correct. A nerve in the lower back is pinched and causing a sensory change (numbness or tingling) in the feet. But much more commonly the transverse arch of the foot (the arch that crossed the front of the foot just behind the toes) has fallen. This causes the metatarsal heads (“toe knuckles”) to squeeze together. The nerves that serve the toes run between the “knuckles”, so if the arch fails, these “knuckles” butt together and irritate the nerve. Most commonly this affects toes 2, 3, and 4. Less commonly the big toe or the pinky. The most common situation for this to happen is in a patient where the 2nd toe is longer than the 1st. This is called “Morton’s Foot”, and can lead to the failure of the transverse arch, with the “knuckles” banging together irritating the nerve between them. The foot can become swollen, tender and in some cases lead to scar tissue forming around the nerve (Morton’s Neuroma).
So if your toes are numb when you stand or walk but not when you sit or lay down, see your chiropractor for an opinion. Is it your back or your feet?
Dr. Eric Jackson