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How do I Treat Ankle Numbness?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ankle numbness can afflict a person for a number of different reasons. Blood circulation can be limited due to tight-fitting socks or shoes, or in a leg that has been immobilized in a cast. There may also be more serious causes of ankle numbness, such as local nerve damage from an injury or illness, or a widespread condition like diabetes or multiple sclerosis. In order to treat numbness, an individual must understand its causes. A primary care physician can usually diagnose the causes of ankle pain and numbness, and recommend treatment in the form of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines, drugs to tackle underlying diseases, physical therapy, or surgery to repair damaged nerves.

Many people experience numbness and stiffness due to ankle sprains and fractures. Numbness might result from a nerve that was damaged or severed during the injury, or one that has been compressed due to swelling in the ankle. An individual with minor sprain can usually relieve ankle numbness by resting, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, and engaging in very low impact exercises to regain feeling. If a person has a severe sprain, fracture, or pinched nerve due to an injury, he or she should visit the emergency room or consult a physician to receive immediate treatment. A doctor can check for signs of nerve damage, prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, brace the ankle, and recommend physical therapy or surgery if necessary.

People with ankle numbness may also benefit from holistic therapies and alternative medicines, including acupuncture, heat and light therapy, and herbal remedies. Acupuncturists may be able to relieve numbness by stimulating nerves with small needles, or subjecting an ankle to multiple heat or laser light treatments. Dozens of popular herbal remedies and vitamins are believed to promote healthy neural functioning and shorten healing time of damaged nerves, including magnesium phosphate, kalium phosphate, rosemary, and ginkgo biloba. Anyone with ankle numbness should consult his or her physician before trying any form of holistic medicine.

If ankle numbness does not appear to be the result of an injury, a more serious medical condition may be causing symptoms. Numbness in the extremities can be a warning sign of diabetes, which is usually treated by maintaining a healthier, active lifestyle and receiving regular injections of insulin. When diabetes is properly managed, individuals are usually relieved of most or all of their symptoms, including numbness. If multiple sclerosis is determined to be the cause of ankle numbness, doctors typically prescribe medications and arrange for regular physical therapy sessions to help a patient regain feeling. Other neurological or autoimmune diseases that lead to numbness require their own specialized treatment plans.

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Discussion Comments

By ysmina — On Sep 02, 2014

I remember once, my socks and shoes were extremely tight. I had gone for a walk but I continue continue for long because my ankles became completely numb. I had to stop and loosen my shoes. I never worse those socks again either. It's important to maintain good circulation in the ankle and feet, especially during activity.

Now that I have diabetes, I also have to worry about neuropathy. Diabetics are at high risk for nerve damage. So even if my ankle becomes numb due to a wrong sitting position, I get worried.

By stoneMason — On Sep 01, 2014

@fBoyle-- Since the nerves that go through the ankle, are also present in the feet and legs, those areas will probably be affected as well. I'm not a doctor but when I fractured my ankle, I had numbness in my feet as well as a few inches above the ankle, in my leg. I'm not sure if it will occur that way for everyone but that was my experience.

I eventually had to have surgery. They had to remove the pressure on the nerve that was caused by the injury. Afterward, the numbness in my ankle and foot disappeared completely.

By fBoyle — On Sep 01, 2014

I had never heard of ankle numbness before. Can numbness occur only in the ankle area? Won't it affect the feet as well?

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