Why do my feet fall asleep?

After sitting on the floor, or crossing your legs, you go to stand up and you are instantly hit with that terrible sensation of pins and needles.  Your leg has fallen asleep. But why does this happen and is it something you should be concerned about?  The answers may surprise you.

Why do my feet fall asleep?

You’ve probably heard that the reason your foot falls asleep is due to loss of blood flow.  But it is actually caused by your nerves being compressed.  Nerves are wires that carry messages from your body to your brain, and when the nerve is compressed it can’t get the message to your brain, which temporarily seizes sensation to your limb. This sensation caused by compression is called Paresthesia.

Should I be concerned?

Generally speaking, no.  Everyone has experienced a sleepy foot at some point.  It’s rare for it to mean that there is something wrong.  If you feel Paresthesia, change your position, and you should feel relief in about 30 minutes.

What if I don’t find relief or it happens often?

“If your foot or arm remains tingling or difficult to move after an hour, it may be time to check in with your doctor. If the cause of your paresthesia is due to an acute central nervous system condition, like a stroke, then time is of the essence. Getting the right diagnosis and medical care immediately is necessary.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

If you have paresthesia that comes on gradually, and if you have a medical condition like diabetes, you may not be too concerned when your pins and needles or numbness worsens. It may just be due to high blood sugar. But, a worsening case of paresthesia should still be monitored by your doctor. Peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes usually starts with a feeling of paresthesia in your foot or feet and it needs to be managed appropriately by your doctor.”[1]

Prevent episodes of paresthesia by sitting in different ways, if you can, and should you get that tingly sensation again, shake your leg a bit.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about your feet, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Hollander.  He is happy to answer your questions at any time.  Schedule your next appointment by calling (707) 578-1222.



[1] Sears, Brett. Very Well Health. November, 2019. https://www.verywellhealth.com/paresthesia-why-body-parts-fall-asleep-4153984