The term neuropathy actually means “nerve disease.” Foot neuropathy is often caused by a reduced blood flow to the feet. This reduced blood flow may be caused by normal aging or there may be other risk factors. I will discuss three of these risk factors and causes of foot neuropathy.

Causes of Foot Neuropathy

1. Diabetes

The first risk factor is diabetes. Over time, diabetes may affect the blood flow in the feet. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of foot neuropathy.

Diabetic foot neuropathy usually affects both feet. A healthy diet, exercise, and stable blood sugars are key to prevent foot neuropathy for people with diabetes.

2. Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease can be another one of the causes of foot neuropathy.

A lot of times if a person has atherosclerosis, which is plaques in their arteries. That plaque is actually throughout their whole body such as their coronary arteries. That plaque may affect their legs also. This build up of plaque will affect the circulation in the feet and the legs, potentially contributing to neuropathy or nerve disease.

If the nerves in the feet and the legs are not getting enough blood flow, then they will eventually have reduced function or potentially die off.

Eating healthy, exercising, and managing your cholesterol are key to prevent foot neuropathy in people with atherosclerosis.

3. Spinal Problems

Another cause of foot neuropathy would be something going on in the spinal column. In this case, the neuropathy is caused by an injury directly to the nerves themselves.

Spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis are possible causes of the spinal nerve in being pinched as it exits the spinal column. That can cause foot neuropathy, but it is usually only in one foot.

The difference typically if it is related to the spine is that it may only be in one foot and/or one leg, versus diabetes or atherosclerosis that will usually affect both legs, or both feet. So, neuropathy in just one foot it may be from the low back or the spine. If neuropathy is both feet, it could be something like diabetes.

Learn More About Causes of Foot Neuropathy

Please note that these are just three examples of conditions that can cause foot neuropathy and not a comprehensive list.

Check out my blog post on Tips for Foot Neuropathy to learn more about how to care for your feet.

If you want help with dealing with your foot neuropathy, check out my online e-course – Foot Therapy Program for Fall Prevention.


This blog is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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