What Makes Your Foot Fall Asleep?

Have you ever been seated in one spot for a long time and suddenly realized that your foot has fallen asleep? When this happens, your appendage has completely gone numb, or every time you try to move it, you experience pins and needles. Well, this uncomfortable sensation has a name—paresthesia. Keep reading to find out more about paresthesia and what you should do about it.

What Is Paresthesia

So, you know paresthesia is what makes your foot fall asleep, but how? Well, paresthesia is a fancy name for compressed or irritated nerves. A nerve becomes compressed or irritated when you put too much pressure on it. This pressure cuts down on the blood flow to your nerves. Without a proper blood supply, nerves cannot transmit a message from your body to your brain. In the end, the nerves just send messages that the brain can’t make any sense of, so the brain starts producing different sensations in the affected limb.

Symptoms Of Paresthesia

In most cases, symptoms of paresthesia only last at a maximum of 30 minutes and are not typically intense or severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Pins and needles
  • Itching
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Difficulty contracting muscles and using the affected limb
  • A feeling of cold
  • A feeling of burning

Causes Of Paresthesia

As mentioned, when your foot falls asleep, it’s usually because you were sitting in an unusual position that was cutting the blood supply off to your nerves. You can solve this simply by moving around and fixing your posture. However, other causes include:

  • Compression of a spinal nerve (i.e., in the case of a herniated disc)
  • Tension and traction or pulling on a nerve
  • Altered nerve function related to illness (i.e., diabetes)
  • Central nervous system conditions (i.e., multiple sclerosis or stroke)

If you have any chronic symptoms (the paresthesia lasts more than an hour), you should seek medical attention. If it is a stroke, time is of the essence. If it comes on gradually and you have diabetes, make sure your doctor is aware, as this could be a sign of peripheral neuropathy.

Neuropathy is any type of nerve disease.  Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The arms and the legs tend to be the first parts of the body affected by this condition. Peripheral neuropathy causes weakness, numbness, and pain.

Diagnosing Paresthesia

Whenever you feel pins and needles or numbness in your feet, this is paresthesia. As mentioned, it can be treated on your own unless it is chronic. If your symptoms persist, you need to see a healthcare provider to accurately diagnose the underlying cause; depending on your health history and other symptoms, there are several different diagnostic procedures your doctor may turn to, including:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • EMG
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test
  • Blood tests

Treatment For Chronic Paresthesia

The treatment for chronic paresthesia is dependent on the underlying cause of it. If the cause is MS, for example, you may need a mix of physical therapy and medication. If a herniated disc is causing the unusual sensations and physical therapy is seemingly not enough to return your functional motor skills, you may need surgery. Unfortunately, in cases of peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, the symptoms are relatively permanent but may change slightly with specific medication.

Visit The Foot & Ankle Center Today!

If you are experiencing chronic paresthesia in one or both of your feet, we may be able to help you get to the bottom of what’s causing it and set you on the path towards managing or curing it. At The Foot & Ankle Center, our healthcare professionals do everything they can to ensure your optimal health and that you walk away from our care with two healthy feet and a smile on your face. Visit our website today to schedule an appointment!