Numbness in the feet, including the second toe, may be the result of nerve impingement or nerve damage, and it can be caused by numerous health problems, including diabetes, Buerger's disease and other circulatory problems, vitamin B12 deficiency, and interdigital neuromas, among other causes.
Diabetes is a common cause of foot numbness, and nerve damage is one of the principal consequences of diabetes. Alcohol consumption can increase the rate of nerve damage in diabetics, deadening the nerves and increasing the possibility of cuts or injury (due to reduced sensation). Buerger's disease—which occurs most frequently in smokers—is characterized by acute inflammation and clotting of the arteries in the hands and feet, and foot numbness is a common symptom of this disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by inadequate dietary intake of vitamin B12 or impaired absorption, and there is a clear link between vitamin B12 deficiency and peripheral neuropathy, which causes numbness and tingling in the feet.
If the second toe numbness is a result of nerve impingement (such as with a neuroma) there are several strategies you might consider to resolve this problem. The important thing here is to reduce the pressure on the interdigital nerves (i.e., the nerves that run to your toes and that pass between the heads of your metatarsal bones—a common site of nerve impingement). To help spread out your metatarsal heads and transverse foot arch and give the interdigital nerves a little more space through which to pass, you can use a metatarsal pad. This is a small and unobtrusive pad that sits just behind the ball of your foot. A toe spacing device, such as Correct Toes, can also be very helpful for this purpose. Spreading the toes can address a number of foot and toe problems, including those, such as neuromas, that are caused by nerve impingement. Also, men’s and women’s shoes that are flat-soled and sufficiently wide—both at the ball of the foot and at the ends of the toes—are another important consideration in relieving pressure on interdigital nerves.
Because there are so many possible reasons that could be contributing to second toe numbness, we’d recommend having a qualified healthcare professional do a complete assessment (which will include a past health history interview and a physical examination). If you want to learn more about toe- and foot-related ailments and how you can work to obtain optimal foot health, please check out this article.