If you have lost sensation in any part of the body, it is referred to as “numbness”. This can last from few seconds to several minutes and in rare cases it could become permanent. Some people may also feel burning pain or pins and needles feeling in their legs or hands. Numbness can be described as loss of sensation and it can affect a single nerve or multiple nerves. It may occur on one side of the body or on both sides. Often, numbness can be felt in hands, feet or arms and legs but it may occur on any part of the body.
There are several factors that can cause numbness in your legs. In medical terms, numbness is known as “paresthesia”. Simple reasons like falling asleep in your arm or sitting in the same position for extended hours can also cause numbness. But numbness can become serious if caused due to medical condition and accompanied with other symptoms. Leg numbness can be treated after diagnosing its root cause.
Temporary leg numbness would not show any other symptoms. Leg numbness caused due to other medical conditions is accompanied by other symptoms like leg pain, feeling of pins and needles on the affected leg. Not all the people having numbness in leg would have the same signs. Some people may get burning pain in the affected leg that radiates from the low back till the leg.
And some others would have pain in the lower leg particularly on their foot. It can cause severe tingling sensation in the leg that can affect the quality of life. In addition it may cause heaviness on the foot that can affect the normal movement. Nerve pain can occur for some people which can extend up to the buttocks area.
The cause of leg numbness may vary from temporary illness to severe. Lack of movement of legs and keeping the legs crossed for extended duration can cause numbness. For some people certain medical conditions can affect the nerves causing numbness. In rare cases, problems in the brain or spinal cord can lead to numbness.
Insect bites, taking toxic foods, undergoing radiation therapy and carpal tunnel syndrome can affect the nerve leading to numbness. Increased levels of vitamins or potassium, insufficient blood supply to the peripheral nerves of the leg, leg injury, and injured nerve of the neck can cause this problem. Certain medical conditions like prolonged diabetes, migraine headache, shingles, thyroid problems and myelitis and encephalitis can cause numbness of legs. In serious cases, stroke, brain aneurysm, and Lyme disease can also lead to leg numbness.
You need to consult doctor if numbness is felt along with pain and if it occurs gradually (comes and goes) and affects only one side of the limb, which can be due to serious problem. Depending on the causative factor and accompanied symptoms, your doctor may order for series of tests. CT scan or MRI scanning would be done to detect any problem in the brain.
Your doctor may order for additional tests like complete blood culture, electrolyte level test, nerve conduction test and imaging tests like angiogram or CT scan. For diagnosing problems in the spine, he may order for lumbar puncture.
Treatment for leg numbness depends on the cause of the problem. Root cause of the problem is to be detected for treating numbness. Doing certain exercises regularly can prevent leg numbness and low back pain caused due to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are obese and diabetic you need to check the blood sugar level regularly and take medications daily to control it.
Leg numbness caused due to vitamin deficiency can be treated with supplementary vitamins. For some people, who take drugs that cause toxicity the medications can be changed suitably after consultation with the doctor. Take suitable precautions if you are having leg numbness frequently, since you may lose control of nerves in your legs. It can cause accidental injury if the person may not have normal feeling in his/her leg due to underlying medical condition.
Preventive Measures :
People having numbness may touch something hot without realizing it and can injure their hands or legs. Make sure you take suitable care while handling sharp objects for preventing injury.