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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Numbness on Top Of Left Foot


 outwest - Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:49 am

Yesterday, I flew accross the country. I had stops in Chicago and Los Angeles, so I did walk around. The longest period of not getting up was about 4 hours, but the total time was close to 12.

I got home and took my shoes off and noticed from by big toe to my ankle is numb. No tingling, no pins and needles, no swelling, no pain, same color, same shape as right foot...just numb.

It is now the nest morning, and still numb.

What is going on?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:45 pm

User avatar Hello -

The tarsal tunnel at the ankle (similar to the carpal tunnel in the wrist) has a number of small nerves running through it from the inside of the ankle on down, and anything that keeps pressure on this area, whether it is long-term (hours) inactivity, bone spur, or some trivial-but-faulty walking or running habit, can put enough pressure on the nerves at that point to cause numbness in the top of the foot and on down to the great toe, as you describe. When this is the result of prolonged inactivity, too-tightly-laced shoes, or any unsual walking, can bring this on. When this is the case it usually will resolve on its own, but can last longer than one might expect (days rather than hours). If this should last longer than four or five days then something may have caused the nerve to become inflamed or swollen, or to have caused some sort of orthopedic misalignment with continuing pressure on the nerve, and then you'd probably want to have it evaluated so that it can be treated properly in order to regain sensation. If it lasts a long time and isn't treated (physical therapy, manipulation) the nerve could become damaged and some degree of numbness permanent. This is extremely rare, but if the numbness persists beyond the first few days the potential for damage begins to accumulate, thus the advice to be seen if it lasts longer than four days without starting to improve.

This is almost certainly a nerve/orthopedic problem and not vascular, because of the lack of discoloration, swelling, etc. It could equally be due to immobility during your flight or the walking you did. It could even be a combination of walking after prolonged immobility. It should work out on its own.

Hope this helps. Please follow up with us as necessary. Good luck to you.

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