Why do my toes tingle?
5 causes of tingling in the toes
Tingling toes are a common sensation experienced by some when running as well when wearing day to day shoes. The main reason for tingling to occur is from pressure on a nerve. Running can cause continual pressure on nerves from long term repetitive motion and the resultant swelling of feet. Tingling occurs if either shoes are too small, or there is an underlying injury. Don’t think it is your shoes – what do you need to look out for?
Five common tingling toes injuries
- Neuritis: Inflammation of the nerves that run between the
bones at the ball of the feet. This is usually resolved by changing footwear and lacing.
- Neuroma: Thickening of the nerve at the ball of the foot where it fills up the available space and hurts even when not active. Both footwear, podiatry and sometimes surgery are necessary depending on the progression of the symptoms.
- Bursitis: Fluid filled sacs become enlarged due to pressure between the heads of the metatarsals (long bone of the feet). These fill the space between the bones and put added pressure on the nerves. Footwear, podiatry and if no resolution, a visit to a sports doctor for cortisone injections may be needed.
- Synovitis or joint capsulitis: Inflammation of the fluid within the toe joint, usually from trauma (e.g. landing badly on a rock) or when the head of the metatarsals are driven into the ground. The latter is a biomechanical problem that needs to be addressed with podiatry care. Like bursitis, the increase in size of the joint can put pressure on the adjacent nerve creating tingling as a secondary symptom.
- Plantar plate tear: The plantar plate is a strong fibrous structure that sits beneath each of the joints at the ball of the foot. Its role is to withstand the high loads at these joints and to create stability. If the toes are over extended repetitively or with excessive force (e.g. running up hills), thickening or a small tear can develop in the plantar plate. Over time, the affected toe can drift apart from its adjacent toe, and develop both synovitis and a claw toe. These changes to the joint integrity can lead to subtle tingling of the toes.
Of the five injuries, plantar plate tears are the least common, but the most misdiagnosed. This is because there can be a combination of symptoms from the other four injuries above. This can lead to unsuccessful treatment plans and ongoing frustration for the runner.
Don’t ignore tingling toes. Whilst it is often a footwear isolated issue that can be relieved by; wearing thinner socks, specific lacing techniques or changing the shoe itself. If your tingling toes are not relieved by these adjustments there may be an underlying injury that is the cause. Book in to see one of our podiatrists at intraining Running Injury Clinic for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Our podiatry team are all runners and understand how frustrating an injury can be. We know you want to get back out and run injury free as quickly as possible.