why do the soles of my feet tingle

Tingling hands, feet, or both is an extremely common and bothersome symptom. Such tingling can sometimes be benign and temporary. For example, it could result from pressure on nerves when your arm is crooked under your head as you fall asleep. Or it could be from pressure on nerves when you cross your legs too long. In either case, the "pins and needles" effect -- which is usually painless -- is soon relieved by removing the pressure that caused it. In many cases, however, tingling in the hands, feet, or both can be severe, episodic, or chronic. It also can accompany other symptoms. such as pain, numbness, and muscle wasting.

In such cases, tingling may be a sign of, which can result from causes as varied as traumatic injuries or repetitive stress injuries, bacterial or, toxic exposures, and systemic diseases such as. Such is known as because it affects nerves distant from the and spinal cord, often in the hands and feet. There are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy. Over time, peripheral neuropathy can worsen, resulting in decreased mobility and even disability. More than 20 million Americans, most of them older adults, are estimated to have peripheral neuropathy. It's important to seek prompt medical evaluation for any persistent tingling in your hands, feet, or both.

The earlier the underlying cause of your tingling is identified and brought under control, the less likely you are to suffer potentially lifelong consequences. is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, accounting for about 30% of cases. In, tingling and other symptoms often first develop in both feet and go up the legs, followed by tingling and other symptoms that affect both hands and go up the arms. About two-thirds of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of. In many cases, these symptoms are the first.

In another 30% of peripheral neuropathy cases, the cause is unknown or "idiopathic. "
Tingling on just one side can signal a problem with the brain or spinal cord, possibly caused by a stroke, though that's usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, or difficulty finding words. Multiple sclerosis is another possibility, but it typically begins with blurry vision. A more common reason would be sleeping in an awkward position that compresses the nerves in the arms or legs. If only the hands tingle, a likely cause is carpal tunnel syndrome (here's what you need to know about ); if there's a rash too, the problem might be a viral infection.

When tingling occurs in many different areas, there's a good chance that it's caused by diabetes. So even if you haven't been diagnosed previously, the symptom is something you should flag for your doctor. Another common cause is a vitamin deficiency, particularly of B12. There's little national data on this, but we almost always find low B12 levels in the patients we test, particularly women over age 40. Found primarily in meat, fish, and dairy, B12 is critical to brain and nerve health. Your doctor can perform a blood test to check your level, explain how to get more of the vitamin in your diet, and recommend a supplement, if necessary.

I suggest keeping a journal to log the days and times you notice the symptoms. You may discover that you experience the tingly sensation when you're resting on your back or after you've been drinking alcohol. Keeping a journal is a great way to see if there are any recurring triggers and may help lead your doctor to a proper diagnosis. SANJAY GUPTA, MD, is chief medical correspondent for CNN and a practicing neurosurgeon at Emory Clinic in Atlanta. Send your questions to. More from Prevention: