What causes numbness and tingling in legs?

By: Devon Andre | General Health | Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 09:00 AM

numbness and tingling in legsNumbness and tingling can occur in one or both legs and comes with a variety of symptoms. Continue reading to learn why this sensation occurs, potential complications that may arise, and when you should notify your doctor, as well as some common remedies to treat your pain.

Symptoms of numbness and tingling in legs

Some of the most common symptoms of leg numbness and tingling include:

  • Pain: If your leg numbness is due to a pinched nerve, you may also experience pain in the legs and back
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent urination
  • Rash
  • Itching: Numbness associated with multiple sclerosis can cause itching
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Burning: Searing pain may radiate from the lower back down to the leg and even into the foot
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pins and needles or prickling sensation
  • Excessive numbness, tingling, or pain when walking
  • Weakness: May be constant or come and go

Leg pain, numbness, and tingling causes

Leg pain, numbness, and tingling may be caused by a variety of conditions that can originate in the back or in the leg itself. These conditions include:

Lumbar degenerative disc disease: The intervertebral discs in the spine can dehydrate and degenerate as you age, limiting flexibility and causing pain that can sometimes be felt down the leg.

Lumbar herniated disc: A herniated disc can put pressure on the root of the nerve, which results in pain shooting through the sciatic nerve into your leg and foot.

Lumbar spinal stenosis: This occurs when the nerve roots are compressed by enlarged facet joints. The pain develops gradually and may improve when you lean forward, as this position can take some of the pressure off of the nerve roots.

Spondylolisthesis: This happens when a vertebra in the spine slides over the lower vertebra, causing instability and limited flexibility. This can lead to a pinched nerve that results in leg pain.

Crossed legs: Sometimes, the tingling or pain can occur because you have been in a position that puts pressure on the nerves or arteries, like sitting cross-legged. This causes the leg to “fall asleep” and results in tingling, numbness, and occasionally some pain.

Spinal tumors and infections: Tumors in the spine or spinal cord, as well as inflammation caused by infections like spinal tuberculosis, may compress the sciatic nerve and cause back and leg pain.

After surgery: After the surgical merging of your lumbar vertebra, you may experience leg pain and numbness.

Broken leg/foot: When you break a bone in your leg or foot, you may experience cramps, pain, or tenderness that worsens with movement, as well as swelling and issues with mobility.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome: Compression of the posterior tibial nerve and the inner ankle is known as tarsal tunnel syndrome and can cause foot pain and numbness, as well as tingling, burning, and foot weakness.

Numbness and tingling: Other causes

Less common causes of leg numbness, pain, or tingling include restless leg syndrome, transverse myelitis (the inflammation of one segment of the spinal cord), and multiple sclerosis. These symptoms may also be caused by hereditary diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes muscle weakness and numbness in the feet and legs, and Marfan Syndrome, where the patient experiences leg pain and numbness near their knees.

Complications of leg numbness

Insufficient or improper treatment of leg numbness may lead to complications, including amputation, disability, inability to walk, organ failure, paralysis, permanent loss of sensation, and poor quality of life.

Diagnosing leg pain

To diagnose the cause of your leg pain or numbness, your doctor will ask where it occurs and how frequently, your body position when you experience it, and what type of pain it is (shooting, burning, tingling). They may also order imaging in the form of a CT or MRI scan and perform a physical test.

Numbness and tingling in legs home remedies

After contacting your doctor and receiving a proper diagnosis, they may recommend the use of some home remedies to help relieve your symptoms. These remedies include:

Heat therapy: Use a hot compress on the affected area to help relax the muscles and nerves.

Massage therapy: Gently and carefully massaging the area where you are experiencing numbness can help to stimulate nerves and muscles.

Exercise: This increases blood circulation and oxygen levels, which can help relieve numbness.

When to call a doctor?

As numbness and leg pain could be a sign of a more severe issue, you should be sure to seek the advice of a medical professional if you experience numbness that has no blatant cause, if you have a rash or are urinating more frequently, if you’re experiencing muscle spasms and dizziness, or if it gets worse as you walk.

Contact emergency services immediately if you experience weakness and are unable to move, if the numbness occurs after a head, neck, or back injury, if you are having difficulty controlling your bladder and extremities, if you have lost consciousness even for a moment, or if you’re experiencing slurred speech, vision problems, issues walking, or weakness.

Numbness, tingling, and pain in the leg may be due to issues in your back or the leg itself and can cause a variety of symptoms. Be sure to contact your doctor to ensure that the cause isn’t serious, and seek immediate medical attention if you think your symptoms warrant it.

Related: Early multiple sclerosis symptoms: Restless leg syndrome, numbness and weakness


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Related Reading:

Leg cramps at night causes, remedies, difference from restless leg syndrome

Middle back pain: Causes, symptoms, and treatment options

Sources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003206.htm
http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/leg-pain/leg-pain-and-numbness-what-might-these-symptoms-mean

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