Can numbness in the feet cause balance problems?

Absolutely!  If you can not feel your feet you lose the ability to have normal sensations from the feet going to the brain to help you to adjust your balance.  This is called proprioception.  The areas of pressure which are applied to the skin of the feet when standing and walking help you adjust your balance as you feel your body moving towards the side and falling.   If your feet are numb, you do not have this ability to have the muscles working properly that help maintain your posture and balance.  Many people use canes or walkers because of this and instability it causes.

You may walk slowly and take very short steps because of the fear of falling.  You do not have the sensation of where your feet are.  Falling and loss of balance can cause injuries including fractures of the leg and hip.  These can be devastating problems for many people because of the consequences of not being active which may increase the chance of blood clots, depression and poor circulation and breathing problems, and in diabetics, poor blood sugar control.

There may be relief for you depending on the cause of the numbness and neuropathy.  An examination done in the office can help determine if your ability for walking and balance may be improved and as a result there can be an increased in sensations to the feet.  This may enable you to be more active which will have numerous benefits to you.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle