Due to sitting in a position that exerts too much pressure on the nerves or restricts blood flow, a person may have numbness in their legs and feet. Long-term or inexplicable numbness, on the other hand, might indicate an underlying medical condition.
Conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and fibromyalgia can cause long-term numbness or tingling in the legs and feet. The feeling might be felt across the leg, below the knee, or in various parts of the foot.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the causes of numbness in the legs and feet, as well as the symptoms and treatments available.
Numbness is just one of the many symptoms connected with numbness, whether momentary and chronic.
Many people who have numbness in their legs and feet often have other symptoms that occur at the same time or in waves, such as:
- a crawling feeling under the skin
Because of their position, a person’s legs frequently go numb. Chronic or long-term numbness in the feet and legs, on the other hand, is usually always an indication of a medical condition.
The following are some of the conditions that might cause numbness in the feet and legs:
The most common cause of transient numbness in the legs and feet is poor posture that puts pressure on nerves or reduces blood flow in the lower limbs. The medical word for transitory (temporary) paresthesia is what many people refer to when their leg “falls asleep.”
The following habits might lead the feet and legs to fall asleep:
- sitting on the feet
- wearing pants, socks, or shoes that are too tight
- sitting or kneeling for long periods
- crossing the legs for too long
Sensory nerve loss causes numbness in a small area of the body or across the limbs in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Although MS-related numbness usually only lasts a short time, it can be severe enough to be debilitating.
Stokes and mini-strokes
Strokes and mini-strokes can harm the brain, altering how the mind perceives and processes nerve impulses. A stroke or mini-stroke can result in numbness in various parts of the body, which can be brief or long-term.
Diabetic neuropathy is a kind of nerve injury that occurs in some people. Diabetic neuropathy can result in numbness, tingling, and discomfort in the feet, as well as the legs if the condition is severe.
Nerves in the trunk, spine, hips, legs, ankles, and feet can be compressed, causing numbness in the feet and legs.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed, pinched, or injured nerve that goes down the back of the leg, along the inside of the ankle, and into the foot.
On the inside of the ankle, the tarsal tunnel is a tiny space. Numbness, burning, tingling, and shooting pain in the ankles, heels, and feet are common people of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Lower back issues and sciatica
Compression of the nerves leading to the legs can be caused by problems in the lower back, such as a breakdown or herniation of spinal discs, resulting in numbness or sensory difficulties.
Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lower back to the legs, is irritated. A person may have numbness or tingling in their legs or feet if this nerve becomes inflamed or constricted.
Tumors and other non-cancerous growths
Tumors, cysts, abscesses, and benign (non-cancerous) growths can push against the brain, spinal cord, or any part of the legs or feet. This pressure can cause numbness in the legs and feet by restricting blood flow.
Peripheral artery disease
The peripheral blood arteries in the legs, arms, and stomach constrict as a result of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), limiting the volume of blood they can pump and lowering blood flow. One of the most prevalent parts of the body affected by PAD is the legs.
When walking or moving upstairs, most people with PAD suffer discomfort and tightness in their legs and hips. Leg numbness and weakness are also common people of PAD.
PAD symptoms usually subside after a few minutes of relaxation.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic or long-term condition that causes widespread pain, aching, and soreness throughout the body. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet are also common people of fibromyalgia.
The majority of people who have fibromyalgia have a range of symptoms, including:
- memory problems and difficulty thinking clearly, sometimes called fibro-fog
- restless leg syndrome
- stiffness and soreness for no apparent reason, especially in the morning or after sleeping
- chronic exhaustion
For at least 3 months, almost everyone with fibromyalgia has symptoms in more than one section of their body. Fibromyalgia is unlikely to be the cause of numbness in the legs and feet if it is not accompanied by other symptoms or is not long-term.
Use of alcoholic beverages
Alcohol’s toxins can induce nerve damage, which can lead to numbness, especially in the feet.
Nerve damage caused by chronic or heavy alcohol intake can also induce numbness. Reduced levels of B vitamins, such as B-1 (thiamine), B-9 (folate), and B-12, are connected to nerve damage induced by heavy alcohol consumption.
The best way to treat numb legs and feet is to figure out what’s causing them.
Long-term numbness in the legs and feet can be treated with the following medications:
- Gabapentin and pregabalin. Medications that block or modify nerve signals may assist to alleviate numbness caused by fibromyalgia, MS, and diabetic neuropathy.
- Corticosteroids. Some corticosteroids can assist with persistent inflammation and numbness caused by diseases like MS.
- Antidepressants. Duloxetine and milnacipran are two antidepressants that have been authorized for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
The following are some home treatments for numbness in the legs and feet that may help:
- Epsom salt baths. Magnesium, a component found in Epsom salts, is believed to improve blood flow and circulation. Epsom salts may be purchased over the internet.
- Stress management and mental strategies. People with persistent numbness, such as MS and fibromyalgia, should attempt to concentrate on the fact that the numbness is typically transient and will go away on its own. The symptoms of central nervous system disorders are also exacerbated by stress.
- Rest. Nerve pressure is one of the most common causes of leg and foot numbness, and usually improves with rest.
Ice. Ice can aid in the reduction of edema that puts pressure on nerves. Several times a day, apply cold compresses or wrapped icepacks to numb legs and feet for 15 minutes at a time.
Heat. Heat can assist release tight, painful, or strained muscles that might produce numbness by putting pressure on nerves. Overheating numb legs and feet, on the other hand, can exacerbate inflammation and produce discomfort and numbness.
- Sleep. Many chronic illnesses that cause numbness in the legs and feet have been shown to worsen when people don’t get enough sleep.
- A nutritious and well-balanced diet. Nerve damage caused by malnutrition, particularly vitamin B deficiency, can result in numbness. Chronic inflammation and discomfort, which can produce numbness, can be reduced by getting adequate vitamins and other minerals.
- Reduced or complete abstinence from alcohol. Toxins found in alcohol can induce nerve damage and numbness. Alcohol can also exacerbate the symptoms of chronic pain and inflammatory disorders, as well as create flare-ups.
- Massage. Massage can assist enhance blood flow and alleviate discomfort in numb legs and feet.
- Exercise. A lack of activity can cause the heart and blood arteries to weaken, limiting their capacity to pump blood to the lower limbs. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are examples of activities that help improve blood flow and relieve chronic inflammation or discomfort.
- Supportive devices. Nerve pressure caused by injuries, tarsal tunnel syndrome, or flat feet can be relieved using braces and specially tailored footwear.
Alternative remedies have been demonstrated to help alleviate the symptoms of numbness in the legs and feet caused by several diseases. The following therapies are available:
- mindfulness meditation
- guided imagery
- vitamin B supplementation (especially B-3, B-6, and B-12)
When to see a doctor
Consult a doctor if you have numbness in your legs or feet that:
- lasts for long periods
- is accompanied by permanent or long-term changes in the color, shape, or temperature of the legs and feet
- is not related to postural habits or lifestyle factors, such as tight clothing and footwear
- is accompanied by any other chronic symptoms
Numbness in the legs and feet is a frequent problem, but if it persists, it might indicate an underlying medical condition.
Anyone who has unexplained numbness that is persistent, frequent, severe, debilitating, or accompanied by other chronic symptoms should consult a physician for a diagnosis and treatment options.