What are the causes of leg numbness and burning pain?

Updated July 19, 2017

Meralgia paresthetica---compression of nerves in the upper leg---causes numbness and burning in your outer thigh. When the nerves supplying sensation to the skins surface are compressed, it affects the feeling in your leg, but not your ability to use your leg muscles. Meralgia paresthetica could be caused by trauma to your legs or diabetes---more commonly though--- tight clothing, obesity, pregnancy, scar tissue from leg injuries or surgery, and walking, cycling, or standing for long periods of time bring on the condition. Most cases of meralgia paresthetica can be treated by wearing looser clothes or losing weight. Mild pain medication may be prescribed to relieve discomfort. Numbness and burning will normally go away on its own in three to four months. If the nerve becomes severely compressed and your symptoms worsen, surgery or injections may be needed to decompress the nerve. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica, including tingling, numbness or burning pain in the outer part of your thigh.

Burning Pain

Burning pain and swelling in your legs are symptoms of lymphedema. Swelling occurs from a blockage in your lymphatic system that restricts fluid drainage---as fluid builds up your leg continues to swell. Swelling is not always present with lymphedema; however, if you have burning pain, aching, or trouble moving your leg, report this to your physician. According to the Mayo Clinic, diligent care of your affected limb is crucial in controlling lymphedema. Exercise, massage, and compression bandaging all help relieve lymphedema symptoms.


The sciatic nerve---located in each leg---controls muscles and provides feeling in your lower legs. Sciatica occurs when the nerve root is compressed---pinched---in your lower spine. A herniated disk is the most common cause of sciatica. Degeneration of spinal disks, or tumours on the spine or sciatic nerve can also cause sciatica. Numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in your leg, along with pain when walking or climbing stairs are signs of a sciatica condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, mild sciatica usually goes away---if your pain lasts longer than four weeks or becomes severe, you should call your doctor.

Peripheral artery disease---PAD---is a circulatory problem. Narrow arteries can reduce blood flow to your legs. PAD can cause leg pain when walking and leg numbness. If untreated PAD can lead to heart disease, stroke, and death. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent PAD from getting worse. According to the Mayo Clinic, PAD symptoms and risks can be greatly reduced by quitting tobacco (if you smoke), exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

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About the Author

In the hot desert of Arizona, Nadia Benavidez has been studying hearing instrument science since 2002. After leaving a clinical practice, Benavidez has put her talent to work writing informative articles related to health and wellness. Currently Benavidez is working on her first book.