Why Does My Foot Fall Asleep?

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Have you ever experienced the sensation of your foot falling asleep? It may have happened while you were watching TV or working on the computer, and when you went to stand up an hour later, you found that your foot was completely numb.  While many believe the “pins and needles” feeling occurs due to the lack of blood supply being sent to your foot, this experience is actually referred to as paresthesia, which occurs when too much pressure is placed on a nerve.

Causes of temporary paresthesia:

  • Sitting in the same position for long periods of time
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Sitting or lying in a way that restricts blood flow to the lower limbs

Symptoms of paresthesia:

  • Prickling
  • Tingling
  • Itching
  • Burning or cold skin

When you sit for long periods of time, your nerves (the tiny threads/wires that run throughout your body, carrying messages to the brain) are temporarily compressed and unable to send messages back and forth, thus temporarily disrupting the connection. As a result, your feet don’t feel anything.

As soon as you change your position, though, your nerves are no longer compressed and the feeling in your foot will slowly start to return. And while it’s important to remember that everyone experiences “sleepy feet” every once in a while, it shouldn’t happen often without reason. If you experience chronic paresthesia, it may be the result of an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage, and you should consult a podiatrist immediately to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Other issues that may cause paresthesia:

  • Neuropathy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Vitamin Deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Radiculopathy
  • Disorders affecting the central nervous system
  • A tumor or vascular lesion

Our podiatrists, Marc A. Borovoy, DPM and John D. Miller, DPM, are experts in all areas of foot and ankle care, and will be happy to assist you with any problems you may be experiencing, including paresthesia. Feel free to request an appointment on our website or call us at (248)348-5300.

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