What It Really Means When Your Feet Tingle

Most of us are familiar with the pins and needles sensation that happens when our feet "fall asleep." The feet become numb and, sometimes, even painful. It's a super common phenomenon that can happen any time there's too much pressure on some part of the foot or leg (which is another reason not to sit for long periods of time with our legs crossed!) or when we're sitting still for long stretches of time. In those cases, the remedy for the uncomfortable sensation is easy — just uncross your legs or start moving again, and the tingling should go away quickly. But what if it doesn't?

Much of the time, a tingling sensation in the feet doesn't indicate any serious problem — but not always. There are a host of conditions that can also cause tingling in the feet, some of which can be serious. Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a podiatrist at StepUp Footcare, told Health, "Tingling in the feet is a sensation or symptom that is described when there is the abnormal firing of the nerves in the body." It can be a result of certain medications, autoimmune disease, extra pressure caused by pregnancy, spinal problems associated with age, pinched nerves, an excess or deficiency of certain vitamins, and more (via Prevention).

Moving and relieving pressure on feet and legs can help

One of the most surprising and common causes of foot tingling, though, is diabetes. According to Foot Vitals, 30% of peripheral neuropathy cases (a cause of tingling feet) are due to diabetes; moreover, approximately two-thirds of patients with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.

So how do you know if the tingling in your feet you're experiencing is actually cause for concern? In most cases, tingling that is simply caused by extra pressure on some part of the feet or legs will go away once the pressure is relieved.

But if the sensation doesn't go away quickly or if it gets worse or is accompanied by pain, it's time to see a doctor to determine if there may be an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Patrick McEneaney, DPM, a podiatrist at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, says, "If it's something that's going to go away, typically it'll go away quickly, but if it's been going on for more than a week, I think it's a good idea to see a doctor and get worked up to figure out what's actually going on" (via Health).