Reasons for leg numbness

Written by gregory hamel
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Leg numbness is a condition where the legs experience dulled sensitivity and may tingle or burn. Leg numbness can be caused by a variety of conditions. Numbness can also be a temporary or persistent condition depending on the cause. Persistent numbness of the legs may indicate potentially serious medical conditions.


A common cause of temporary numbness in the legs is prolonged exposure to cold. Cold causes a reduction in blood flow, which dulls the sensitivity in the legs. Exposure to cold water causes numbness, especially rapidly due to water's ability to conduct temperature. If the legs become numb due to exposure to cold, it is important to get the legs out of the cold so that the tissues can warm. If cold is applied too long, it can result in permanent damage such as frostbite.

Circulatory Restriction

Any physical impediment to the circulation of blood into the legs can lead to numbness. A tightly wrapped bandage around the leg is likely to cause the portion of the leg below the bandage to become red and numb. Applying weight to the legs is also likely to cause numbness; simply sitting on one's own legs or crossing the legs can cause numbness. Elevating the legs for prolonged periods of time can also cause numbness.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is a circulatory disorder characterised by the build-up of fatty deposits or plaques in the arteries. A common symptom of PAD is leg numbness. Leg numbness caused by PAD should be taken seriously because PAD can lead to greater chances of coronary artery disease, and in turn, heart attacks and stroke. If you experience leg numbness on occasion with no apparent cause, you should mention it to your doctor and ask them about PAD.

Nerve Damage

Damage to the nervous system can cause numbness in the legs, and potentially a complete loss of feeling. The nervous system is responsible for transmitting the sense of touch from the skin to the brain. If the nervous system is damaged, such as due to damage to the spinal column or surgery, the signals from the legs to the brain can be impaired.

Other Causes

Leg numbness can be caused by alcoholism and the excessive use of alcohol. Type 2 diabetes increases one's likelihood of experiencing leg numbness. Past strokes can cause leg numbness, as the stroke can cause damage to the part of the brain that processes the sense of touch. Similarly, a brain tumour or spinal tumour can cause numbness. Lyme disease is another condition that can cause numbness. Considering leg numbness can be induced by such a wide range of causes, it is important to determine the cause in order to assess whether further medical attention is required.

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