Big Toe Numbness

Big toe numbness is a condition characterized by numbness in the toes, tingling and sometimes burning sensations. This condition can make it difficult to walk, Big Toe numbness can be temporary, due to compression by tight shoes, or it may be an indication of a serious underlying problem. When you have chronic big toe numbness you should visit your doctor. To understand more about this condition, you need to know what may be causing it.

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  • Tingling or burning sensations
  • Complete numbness and loss of sensation in the big toe

Causes of big toe numbness

This is a condition that can have a lot of underlying causes, and all of them affect the nerves that lead to your big toe. Here are some of them:

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome – this is an autoimmune disease that affects the functioning of the nerves
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease – this is a hereditary condition which affects the nerves
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Reynaud’s disease
  • Herniated disk
  • Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy – people who suffer from diabetes will develop some form of neuropathy
  • Vasculitis or inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Shingles
  • Frostbite
  • Alcoholism or chronic alcohol abuse
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal cord injury – this shows that nerves leading to the foot have been affected
  • Exposure to poisons and toxins – some of these substances will affect the peripheral nerves which can cause big toe numbness
  • Bone marrow disorders – these include having abnormal proteins in the blood, bone cancer, amyloidosis and lymphoma.
  • Other diseases – diseases such as hypothyroidism, connective tissue disorders, liver disease and kidney disease can also cause big toe numbness

High impact sports and exercises, such as running or playing football, can cause big toe numbness. The reason for this is the fact that nerves in the foot will be compressed during these exercises. In this case, the numbness in the toe will fade quickly once the exercises and sports have been completed.

There are less common causes of big toe numbness, but these are more serious since they have a high impact on the nervous system. The big toe numbness may come with some numbness to one side of the body. These causes are:

  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

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Treatment for big toe numbness

The doctor will prescribe a treatment for big toe numbness depending on the underlying cause. If you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy, one of the main causes of big toe numbness, then the doctor will give you medication that will regulate the blood sugar in your body. You may also have to exercise more and eat better. Apart from these, you may also be given a regimen of pain-relieving medications such as:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • Opioids or medication similar to opioids such as tramadol and oxycodone
  • Anticonvulsants and antidepressants which help in treating the nerve pain for diabetics such as pregabalin and duloxetine

If a patient has chronic big toe numbness, then regular foot examinations, to check for wounds and proper circulation, are a must. It is also important that he or she follows proper foot hygiene, such as:

  • Using a handheld mirror to check for wounds and lacerations at the bottom of the toes and feet
  • Cutting the toes regularly
  • Wearing soft thick socks which will act as a shock absorber during walking or running
  • Wearing shoes that will allow the toes to move freely within

When should you see a doctor?

As mentioned before, big toe numbness may be innocent, in which case it will go away without treatment, or it may indicate a serious underlying condition. So when should you go and see a doctor? Here are some indications that need a doctor’s attention:

  • Facial drooping – this is when all or part of the face droops and does not respond well to your muscles
  • Difficulty seeing from one both eyes
  • Loss of balance – when you simply feel woozy, no matter how much you try to steady yourself
  • Muscle weakness – when you suddenly cannot feel the strength that you normally feel in your limbs
  • Difficulty in speaking or thinking properly or coherently
  • Severe headaches that come suddenly
  • Loss of sensation to one side of your body
  • Any numbness that may occur in the big toe after going through some form of head trauma
  • Shakes, jerking and feeling of shivering

If you have chronic big toe numbness, which does not come with any other symptoms, you should also see a doctor, who will examine you properly, to ensure that it is not a sign of something that is coming on. If the toe numbness seems to be getting worse you should similarly see a doctor.

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