Physical Symptoms

Foot Discomfort an Anxiety Symptom?

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

Foot Discomfort an Anxiety Symptom?

Anxiety is felt literally from head to toe. People don't really think of the feet as a place that they are affected by anxiety, but the reality is that foot discomfort is actually a very common anxiety symptom, and one that can even cause significant distress.

Foot discomfort really is something that can affect anyone with anxiety.

Issues with your feet can be disconcerting, and certainly it's hard to imagine what this foot discomfort can be if you haven't experienced it before. But here are examples of what you may experience in your feet:

  • Foot Tingling, Burning, and Numbness The most common problem is a numbness or tingling that is similar to when your foot falls asleep. This can be the result of hyperventilation or adrenaline, which moves blood from your feet in such a way that they can lose feeling. Foot tingling is especially common before and after anxiety attacks.
  • Foot Pain From Walking There is a lot of evidence that those with anxiety tend to have problems keeping automatic abilities automatic. For example, those with anxiety tend to think about their breathing, and when you think about your breathing you start to breathe manually. Many people find that the same is true from walking, where they start to walk funny because their movements don't feel natural. Those issues can create foot pain, because your foot is designed to walk a very specific way,
  • Foot Coldness Foot coldness is also a common problem. This can be caused by two issues. First, as mentioned above, the blood may move out of your foot when you have anxiety and that can cause your feet to be cold. But another simpler reason is that anxiety causes sweating, and sweating is designed to cause coldness.
  • Oversensitivity Another reason you may have foot discomfort is simply because of oversensitivity. Those with anxiety tend to notice every normal discomfort they have. You may always have had very minor discomforts that you ignored, but when you developed anxiety, you start to notice them more. When your mind notices anything, it tends to amplify it and make it worse, and that may be what's occurring with your foot discomfort.

Anxiety is also known to cause weird spasms, aches and pains, and more. But these tend to affect people on a case by case basis and, unfortunately, it can be very difficult to figure out the cause. Just remember that stress wreaks havoc on your body, and anything that causes that much physical distress is going to lead to strange and unusual sensations.

The good news is that when your foot discomfort is caused by anxiety, the only thing you need to do is combat your anxiety. The bad news is that anxiety isn't something that you can cure overnight. You need to find yourself an effective, long term strategy that will stop your anxiety and keep it from coming back.

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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