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Q. What might be the reason for feet numbness while playing football?

Answered by
Dr. Sumit Chawla
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 13, 2015 and last reviewed on: Jul 26, 2019

Hi doctor,

My son is now 17 years old. He is a football soccer apprentice in a professional football team. He is generally fit and healthy. He used to train with the team for five days a week and plays a match on Saturday. For a few years, he has been experiencing his feet going numb whilst playing the match. In training, throughout the week he does not feel any numbness in his feet. However, when he increases the intensity in game he experiences a numb feel where he describes his feet as blocks of wood. He seems to have become slower in his game because of this problem. Do you have any idea of what this might be? Thanks.

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Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • Numbness of feet especially at this level where he is playing professional football is really worrisome since numbness is usually related to the nerve compression.
  • As your son does not report any episode of numbness during training, it indicates there is a problem only during increased intensity of match or using different match gear compared from his training gear.
  • He should check his shoes whether it is appropriate for running or not. Tight shoe laces during match can cause compression especially if tied in a circumferential manner. Use of extra pair of towel socks can also decrease foot space.
  • Use of shin guard during match might be a cause of compression.
  • I would recommend him to get training in complete match gear to rule out any size mismatch of shoes or other problem, if any.
  • His problem has been for years as you mentioned; is there any episode at rest or during sleep or without workout? I need a detailed history from patient to get a conclusive diagnosis.
  • If problem persists, he must visit a local physician to undergo a complete neurological examination to rule out any mechanical cause.
  • How has been his performance in training and on the field? Psychological factor does play a role in pathophysiology of pain. I hope he does well in near future and make his father proud. I wish him good luck for the game.

The Probable causes:

1. Chronic compartment syndrome.
2. Disc compression.
3. Psychological pain.
4. Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
5. Shoe size misfit.

Regarding follow up:

Revert back with a detailed history to an orthopaedician and traumatologist online.---> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/orthopaedician-and-traumatologist

Hi doctor,

Thank you for your response. He does complain of very tight calf but does stretch a lot which is strange. We took him to get his feet properly measured today and his width is apparently very wide. We are looking to purchase wider boots for him to see if this helps. The problem normally starts with strong tightness in the Achilles and arch of the foot area. As the game goes on the foot begins to numb and gets completely numb in a while. He did not yet experience any numbness apart from in a game. His blood pressure is 122/69.

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Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I am glad that you answered those questions for me.

  • On excessive workout like running in the forefoot that is toes, the adjacent area of foot spreads out. So, if running shoe is tight in the toe box initially it creates further problem on running as foot tries to expand in a tight space. Toe box of the running shoe should have adequate space.
  • If you are using a smaller size shoe, I hope the change of footwear might be the solution in your case.
  • If there is no problem apart from game, it really rules out a lot of serious problems related to nerve compression at the level of spine.
  • Also take care of the tendon Achilles as footballers and sprint athletes are prone to tendon Achilles damage. Consult the training coach or physiotherapist for exercise helping in tendon Achilles tendinitis (preventive measure) and use silicon insole as they decrease pressure over heel.
  • I hope new shoes should do the trick and best of luck for the game.

Revert back for further information to an orthopaedician and traumatologist online -->  https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/orthopaedician-and-traumatologist


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