What Causes Leg Numbness?


Quick Answer

Leg numbness is sometimes caused by problems in the lower back, explains Spine-health.com. This numbness is different than the occasional short-term numbness caused when legs are “asleep” and can potentially affect quality of life. Leg numbness from low-back issues can range from slight tingling to complete numbness.

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What Causes Leg Numbness?
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Full Answer

The condition is usually caused by sciatica, which is characterized by damage or pressure to the sciatic nerve, notes MedlinePlus. This nerve begins in the low back and runs down the backside of each leg. The sciatic nerve works to control the muscles in the lower leg and the back of the knee while providing sensation to the soles of the feet, a portion of the lower leg and the backs of the thighs. When this nerve becomes damaged or compressed, numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the legs can result.

On its own, sciatica is not classified as a medical condition but rather a symptom of an underlying problem, according to MedlinePlus. Generally, sciatica is caused by a slipped disk, spinal stenosis, pelvic fracture or injury, piriformis syndrome or tumors. Treatment of sciatica depends on the underlying cause; sometimes recovery occurs spontaneously without treatment. Nonsurgical treatment is usually recommended along with the application of heat or ice to the area and the use of over-the-counter pain remedies such as Tylenol, Motrin IB or Advil.

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