Crawling feeling on underside of feet and sometimes in right hand

by Phil
(London, UK)


For about 6 months I have had on and off symptoms that vary in intensity.
It started with shooting pains down the back of both legs (this is why I went to the doctor) and a numb feeling in the big toe of my right foot. Eventually I was referred for physio (thinking sciatica related problems). This seemed to help but seemed to move the problem around (i.e it went from a numb toe to the outside of the foot to the shin etc). At the time my symptoms were a tingling foot, warmness in the foot / leg and a "tugging" / tingling of on the underside of my right hand (extending to little finger). I also had a period of muscle cramps in the forearms which I paid little attention too and has subsequently gone.

As the weeks progressed these symptoms came and went. It wasn't coupled with any back pain (although in the 6 months I did have two episodes where a muscle spasm (mid left back and right lower back - both on different occasions) meant I had two days off work for each. Both resulted from heavy physical labour!

Now, I am left with the generalised symptoms of on occasion (once or twice a week) it will flare up in the underside of my feet, where they feel tingling / painful, to the point where sometimes it can be painful to stand. Again to a lesser extent my right hand gets a tugging feeling on the underside (extending to my little finger) and it seems to tire if raised above my head (almost as if the blood struggles to circulate there!). NO loss of strength in any limb. If I extend both arms out to my side and open my hand back to my forearm (i.e. knuckles facing forearm) i feel a pulsing tingling in the wrist of both hands. I have also had a random pulsing in the heel of the right foot which only lasted a week or so (you may notice that as symptoms come and go I am becoming more tuned to them and stressed with it all...looking for a pattern and assuming the worst!)

Apart from that I have no other associated symptoms.

The symptoms do seem to coincide with during the working week and not happen as often on weekends. I wonder (as did my doctor) whether its posture or stress related (since I sit for 8 hours a day at work) and on weekends I am more active, or stress related (again, would tie in with work and weekends/holiday not much).

I do have a dull ache in the middle of my back (if for example I do a work out) but not sure if that is related.

Generally the pain/symptoms (when present) are more obvious as the day progresses (i.e. first thing in the morning its generally ok).

I am male, 29 years old, 5'10 tall and 77kg in weight (generally healthy!).

Any thoughts? The more I scour the internet, the more afraid I get!
Also worth noting I have a pending appointment with a neurologist. But until then, I was wondering if you have any thoughts.

Hello Phil,

Don't get unduly anxious. Bad stuff only happens to other people!

Seriously though, it's good you are seeing a neurologist, to establish a diagnosis. It would seem to me that there are different things going on here.

It's highly likely that the symptoms in your lower leg(s) are related to the episodes of lower back pain that you had. To test that:

Bend forwards slowly. Is the pull in the legs the same? Now bend backwards and to the side. Does that do anything in the leg.

Punch "Slump test" into the Search this site facility at C-H. When you do this test, does that right lower leg hurt, feel much tighter than the other leg?

The chair is the lower back's worst enemy. It's no surprise that when you sit all day, you have more pain. Get up regularly and walk around during your working day, and sit much less in the evening. Lie on your back when watching TV.

The pain under your foot could be from your back, but it could also be a plantar myofascitis, or other. If you press under your foot does it hurt?

When you see the neurologist, ask him if he would mind doing Adson's test. Quite a tricky test to determine if there is a rib affecting the artery and nerves to the arm. Meantime you could do the "hands up" test.

Phil, start looking for a local chiropractor. I'm sure there is someone who can help you with them. They are typical of what I see every day. The neurologist will probably do some Xrays, maybe a scan which would be helpful. A peripheral neuropathy is a possibility but I think unlikely, considering you've had episodes of back pain. The Slump test will tell you. Negative in a peripheral neuropathy.

Still, a couple B12 injections wouldn't do any harm. Keep in touch.

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Mar 17, 2011
forgot to say
by: Phil

Unsure if related, but I do have a general pain in my right elbow. It was exacerbated (dont laugh) by playing tennis on the Wii. It was quite painful for a while after (maybe a week) and a residual pain remains (e.g. if I try to do dips, or lifting myself off my chair). Press ups dont seem to aggravate it as much

Mar 17, 2011
Thank you
by: Phil

Thanks for the reply.

I should stress that the symptoms I feel are far from severe, but just there (intermittently). Its just that I notice them, that it bothers me...

In terms of the pain in my feet, my physio which I saw 6 months ago did suggest insoles for the heels or issues with the arch of my foot. I am sorry to say I didnt give that advice much weighting...I will buy some insoles as suggested.

I will try the slump test but can tell you that my right leg is "tighter" than the left in any stretching I do. No pain when I arch backwards or to the side. Bending forward (pivoting about the pelvis whilst standing) invokes stretching pain in the back of both legs. I can reach to just below the knees with finger tips in the morning, and mid shin later in the day. The physio said I had extremely tight hamstrings.

If I sit and stretch the hamstrings (this stretch is far easier to do than if standing up. I try to do this daily holding for 15-20 seconds (where comfortable) on each leg...twice.

I generally "click" my lower back (feels like the joint between spine and pelvis) by lying on my back and swinging legs from one side to another. Usually clicks on the right side, never the left. The exercise on this page sums up what I do (called basic spinal twist...I also do the pelvic tilt). Whether the FORM is correct is another matter....

The ache in the middle of my back (between shoulder blades) is more pronounced. The physio I saw said the muscles where tense there. She went through each vertebrae and pushed on them (to the side) and established no issues (at the time). But between shoulder blades did invoke a sharp pain when pressing (it was highly localised to one or two of the vertebrae) and did alleviate symptoms of the right arm when she "worked" on it!

Hope the above gives more information. Apologies for my basic grasp of physiology!



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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

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Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

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He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

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