Numbness of the legs: causes and treatment
The feeling of numbness in the legs is familiar to almost every adult and even a child. Often this situation arises after spending time in an uncomfortable position, when a person simply "sat" or "lay down" his leg. When a limb is compressed, the blood supply is disrupted in it, and the nerves will not be able to transmit impulses normally. This situation is not dangerous and after a few minutes everything returns to normal.
However, sometimes numbness in the legs worries a person for a long time. This may indicate a serious disorder in the body. You should not tolerate a deterioration in sensitivity, you need to consult a doctor and find out the causes of this symptom.
- Causes of leg numbness
- Numbness in the legs while sleeping
- What to do if your legs are numb?
- Numbness Treatment
Causes of leg numbness
The reasons for numbness of the lower extremities can be hidden in the following diseases:
Peripheral neuropathy. In this case, the nerve fibers of the legs are not able to normally receive and transmit signals to the brain.
A variety of factors can provoke neuropathy, the most common of which are:
- Diabetes. Neuropathy, with corresponding symptoms, manifests itself in every person at a certain stage in the development of the disease. Legs become numb and sore in 70% of patients. The cause of the disturbance lies in metabolic disturbances that occur against the background of high blood sugar levels. In this case, small nerve fibers die off. The pathological process begins with the legs.
- Renal failure Numbness will be caused by the accumulation of a large amount of toxins in the body.
- Hypothyroidism This disease contributes to the violation of the sensitivity of the legs due to malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.
Avitaminosis. Vitamins are directly involved in the formation of the sheath of nerve fibers and in the conduction of impulses. If the body does not have enough B vitamins, vitamin A or E, then the first symptom of vitamin deficiency may be numbness of the legs.
- Poisoning with toxic substances such as glue, lead, mercury, etc.
- Infectious diseases that affect nerve fibers. It can be herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV.
- Diseases of an autoimmune nature. These include SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis.
- Taking medications. These are remedies for the elimination of seizures, antibiotics, anti-tuberculosis drugs, cytostatics.
- Deficiency in the body of magnesium, iron and calcium. These trace elements are directly involved in the transmission of nerve impulses.
In addition to numbness in the legs, a person may be bothered by symptoms such as paresthesias, tingling of the skin, unsteadiness of gait, a feeling that dense tissue has been pulled on the foot, lower leg or thigh. Pathological changes in the skin are possible.
Mononeuropathy. In this case, only one nerve or nerve plexus is clamped.
This situation is observed with the following pathologies:
- Sciatica. The disease is accompanied by inflammation or compression of the sciatic nerve. Numbness in a limb will bother a person at night.
- Tunnel syndrome develops when the tibial nerve is pinched, located in the tarsal canal (it is located next to the ankle). The feeling of numbness will then spread to the foot and heel.
- Any injury to the lower extremities can lead to painful sensations and a feeling of numbness. Moreover, if during a dislocation, fracture, sprain or bruise the pain is acute, then it becomes aching. Often such symptoms follow a person throughout his life, since the damaged nerve or tendon may not fully recover.
- Neuroma Morton. This disease is accompanied by a thickening of the nerve that runs between the long bones of the foot. Therefore, the feeling of numbness will be localized in this area.
- The lateral part of the leg and foot becomes numb with neuritis of the peroneal nerve.
Sometimes numbness in the legs worries a person who has walked in tight and uncomfortable shoes all day. The unpleasant sensation debuts after he takes off his shoes. The discomfort is worse at night.
Diseases associated with spinal cord injury. If the transmission of nerve impulses is disrupted at the level of the spinal cord, then in addition to a feeling of numbness in the legs, a person will experience muscle weakness. Other organs in the small pelvis will cease to perform their functions in full.
The causes of such violations are most often:
- Hernia growth in the space between the vertebrae.
- Osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine.
- Spinal cord tumor.
- Congenital stenosis.
- Multiple sclerosis. This is an autoimmune pathology that damages the myelin sheaths of the nerve trunks.
Thus, congenital and acquired disorders in the functioning of the spinal cord can cause numbness in the leg.
Diseases of the brain. Despite the fact that the lower limbs are located far from the brain, they obey the signals that it sends. If the brain centers that regulate the work of the legs fail, then this will affect their sensitivity.
Strokes and brain injuries are capable of provoking numbness in the legs. Sometimes discomfort can occur due to tumor neoplasms, or against the background of transient ischemic attacks.
Numbness in the limbs with these pathologies is often combined with impaired movement in the upper half of the body and pains of various localization.
Circulatory disorders. Numbness in the legs can be a consequence of circulatory disorders caused by a wide variety of reasons. If the lower limbs do not receive enough nutrition, then this will not go unnoticed.
The reasons may be as follows:
- Raynaud's disease.
- Atherosclerotic vascular lesions of the lower extremities.
- Endarteritis of the vessels of the legs. The disease often develops in smokers.
- Heart failure.
- Varicose veins.
- Thrombosis of the vessels of the legs.
Sometimes circulatory disorders of the lower extremities can be triggered not by any diseases, but by external causes. This often happens when the legs are exposed to cold, when a spasm of small vessels occurs. In addition, stagnation of blood in the legs provokes a long pastime in an uncomfortable position. In this case, the feeling of numbness will quickly pass without any outside interference.
Video: neurosurgeon Gennady Struts about numbness to the limbs:
Numbness in the legs while sleeping
Sometimes it happens that a person complains that his legs become numb only at night. The explanation for this can be found simple. The fact is that during the day the brain receives a huge number of signals, so if the discomfort in the legs is not too intense, the person simply will not attach importance to it.
When the body is resting, it is not affected by any distractions, so the feeling of numbness comes to the fore. Such discomfort can disrupt a person's sleep.
Causes of numbness in the legs at night:
A neuropathy that has just begun to develop. This means that any of the above diseases can provoke discomfort if they are at an early stage of development.
- Osteochondrosis, which affects the lumbar region.
- Early stage of multiple sclerosis.
- Uncomfortable posture while sleeping.
- Restless legs syndrome. In this case, numbness will occur in the feet and legs.
Sometimes the leg goes numb at night during pregnancy. There may be several reasons for this. This includes hormonal changes in the body, an increase in body weight, a deficiency of nutrients, pressure on the vessels and nerve endings of the growing uterus. If numbness occurs from time to time and does not cause serious discomfort, then this should not be cause for concern. However, when the symptom tends to get worse, you need to see a doctor. It is possible that the woman is developing serious pregnancy complications.
What to do if your legs are numb?
To clarify the cause of the discomfort, you need to go to an appointment with a therapist or neurologist. The doctor will examine the patient, listen to his complaints and prescribe an examination. Since the reasons causing such a violation are very diverse, it may be necessary to consult a cardiologist, vascular surgeon, neuropathologist and other narrow specialists.
Sometimes numbness in the legs requires urgent medical attention.
You need to call a medical team in the following situations:
- If you suspect a stroke. In this case, the person develops muscle weakness, speech disorders, paresis of the legs and arms may occur.
- If thrombosis is suspected. In this case, numbness from the toes extends to the lower leg, to the foot and even to the thigh. It all depends on where the blood clot formed. The leg loses sensitivity, becomes pale and cold.
- The resulting injury to the lower limb. Even if the motor activity of the leg is not impaired, it is necessary to go to an appointment with a traumatologist.
- If you suspect spinal cord compression. In this case, the person will experience fecal and urinary incontinence.
Basic plan for examining a patient with complaints of leg numbness:
- Donation of blood and urine for general analysis.
- Blood donation for biochemical analysis.
- X-ray of the lumbar spine, or MRI of this area of the back.
- Ultrasound of leg vessels with examination of arteries and veins.
- Electroneuromyography of peripheral nerve fibers.
The following examinations can be assigned as auxiliary diagnostic methods:
- Donating blood for thyroid hormones.
- Determination of the level of iron in the blood serum.
- Donation of blood to determine the level of glucose in it.
- Determination of the level of vitamins in the blood. In particular, a B vitamins count is required.
- Donating blood for major viral infections: HIV, herpes virus and Epstein-Barr.
Based on the data obtained, it will be possible to make the most accurate diagnosis.
Treatment directly depends on what kind of pathology provoked the appearance of these symptoms. You may need to take sugar-burning drugs or insulin if a person develops diabetes. It is imperative to give up bad habits, such as smoking and alcohol abuse.
A hernia of the spine requires surgery. Patients with heart failure should be hospitalized, as should those with strokes and thrombosis.
For the treatment of neuropathy, vitamin-mineral complexes, vascular preparations are used. Rheumatic diseases require the use of glucocorticosteroids. According to the indications, the patient is prescribed physiotherapy procedures: UHF, paraffin therapy, magnetotherapy, taking baths with radon or hydrogen sulfide, etc.
Numbness prevention measures that can be taken at home:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle, giving up bad habits.
- Wearing comfortable orthopedic shoes.
- Timely treatment of injuries.
- Reception of foot baths.
- Performing foot massage.
- Taking a contrast shower.
- Moderate physical activity. To improve blood circulation in the lower extremities, a person must walk for at least half an hour a day.
If the doctor prescribes any medication, then it is necessary to take them on schedule.
Video: How to treat limb numbness?
The author of the article: Shutov Maxim Evgenievich | Hematologist
Education: In 2013 he graduated from the Kursk State Medical University and received a diploma "General Medicine". After 2 years, completed residency in the specialty "Oncology". In 2016 completed postgraduate studies at the National Medical and Surgical Center named after N. I. Pirogov.