What are the causes of foot pain & numbness in the legs?

Updated November 21, 2016

Your foot (or feet) hurt. Your leg is numb. It's annoying and it's inconvenient and, above all else, it hurts and it scares you because you don't know what is causing it. Injuries to the back, certain diseases and age can all contribute to numbness in the leg and foot pain.


If you have injured your back, causing pressure on a nerve or compression of the nerves, this very well may result in pain in your foot and leg numbness. If the sciatic nerve has been affected, this can cause leg and foot problems. In fact, sciatica is the primary cause for leg and foot pain and numbness, according to The medical term for this type of pain is radiculopathy. When a person suffers from sciatica, the pain travels from the lower back down through the butt and on down the large sciatic nerve located in the back of the leg. When a disc protrudes from its correct position in the vertebral column and subsequently puts pressure on the nerve root (radicular nerve), which is located in the lower back and forms part of the sciatic nerve, this can cause leg and foot pain and numbness.


As we age, the lumbar discs in our back start to degenerate. Sometimes the first symptom of disc degeneration is leg and foot pain and numbness. This is considered "referred" pain because the brain cannot always tell where the source of the pain is, so the pain can be felt vaguely, or acutely, in other areas. Normally, referred pain is achy, dull and is not especially localised. Degenerative disc disease results in compression of the nerve root, which can cause leg pain. As we age, the discs in our back shrink up and the space that was allotted for nerve roots shrinks as well, according to The whole lumbar spine becomes far less flexible. The pain, from the compressed nerve roots, may radiate down one or both legs and into the foot and is associated with tingling and numbness.

Positional Leg Pain

Leg numbness can be caused by something as innocuous as sitting with your legs crossed for a long period of time, according to In addition, if you have been in a squatting position or have simply sat for too long, your leg or legs may become numb. Something as minor as the wallet in your back pocket pressing against the nerves in your leg can cause your leg to fall asleep because there is direct pressure placed on the leg nerves and blood supply may be cut off because of squished arteries. This is called positional leg pain, according to

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Foot pain can be caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of the tibial nerve at the ankle. In addition to pain, this can cause a burning or tingling sensation and numbness of the foot.

Diabetic Neuorpathy

A vast majority of those suffering from diabetes will have foot pain, according to When you experience this sort of nerve problem, it is considered neuropathy and it includes pain and numbness and can conceivably progress to the point where it results in disability. Neuropathy, which is a nerve disorder that can be caused by diabetes, is part of the cause of 80,000 leg and foot amputations each year, so it must be taken seriously. According to, neuropathy can be caused by numerous factors, including long-term diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, high blood glucose, possibly low levels of insulin, neurovascular issues that can lead to the damage of blood vessels that transport oxygen and nutrients to the nerves as well as an injury to the nerve (carpal tunnel syndrome), autoimmune factors that lead to inflamed nerves, and lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking. Diabetic neuropathy is most common in diabetics who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar (glucose) and those have high blood pressure and high levels of blood fat. Being overweight also increases your risk of developing neuropathy.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.