Leg Numbness, Tingling Feet and Toes


Numbness is decreased, and tingling unusual sensation in the leg. This article describes causes of numbness and tingling in the legs, feet or toes.

What Does  Numbness and Tingling Mean?
Numbness In the Arms, Hands and Fingers
Head/Face Numbness


Sitting With Legs Crossed

Sitting with legs crossed, sitting on the foot, prolonged sitting or squatting, or a wallet in a back pocket may be the cause of a pressure on the leg nerves or arteries resulting in leg “falling asleep”:

  • Numbness, tingling or inability to move the leg or foot, resolving within few seconds or minutes after releasing the pressure and stretching the leg
  • In extreme situations, prolonged leg crossing or other forceful leg position could cause prolonged or even permanent damage of the peroneal nerve.


Sciatica is a common name for lower back and leg pain, caused by any disorder involving sciatic nerve (listed below). Common symptoms are:

  • Pain in the lower back and/or buttocks
  • Pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg or foot, usually on one side, occasionally on both sides

Causes of sciatic pain:

Herniated Lumbar Disc

Bulging or herniated disc in the lumbar spine, mostly between 4th and 5th lumbar, or 5th lumbar and 1st sacral vertebra, can press on the roots of the sciatic nerve. A common cause is degenerative disc disease (DDD). A disc may herniate gradually or suddenly, often after lifting a heavy object from the ground. Symptoms include:

  • Pain, tingling or numbness in the lower back, buttock, thigh, calf or foot, usually only on one side
  • Worsening of symptoms during sitting, standing, sleeping and during certain movements, bending or lifting objects from the ground; symptoms may be relieved by walking or swimming
  • Cauda equina syndrome is typically caused by a large herniated lumbar disc that presses on the lumbar nerves. In the lumbar spine, the nerve roots and nerves are spread out like a ‘horse’s tail’ (in Latin cauda equina). Symptoms frequently appear on both sides: low back pain, bilateral lower extremity weakness, numbness around the anus and on the inner thighs (saddle anesthesia), bladder and bowel incontinence. These symptoms are a surgical emergency.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal. It can be genetic but is usually due to an age related overgrowth of vertebral bone that narrows the spinal canal. Symptoms are like in herniated lumbar disc (see above).


Spondylolisthesis (Gk. spondylo = spine, listhesis = to slip or slide) refers to slippage (usually forward) of a vertebra and the spine above it. Disorder may be congenital, or caused by an age related degeneration, trauma or operative injury. Symptoms are like in herniated lumbar disc (see above).

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle, which is located in the lower part of the spine, can have spasms and compress the sciatic nerve thus causing low back pain. More about piriformis syndrome.

Spinal Tumors and Infections

Tumors in the spine or spinal cord, and inflammation in infections, like spinal tuberculosis, can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica and back pain.


During pregnancy, especially when lying down or walking, the womb can press on the sciatic nerve and can cause low back pain and tingling in one or both legs. Bulging or herniated disc is also a common cause. Symptoms usually go away after childbirth.


Leg Numbness After Surgery

Leg pain and numbness may appear after surgical fusion (merging) of the lumbar vertebra.

Broken Leg / Foot

Symptoms of a broken leg may include:

  • Pain, tenderness or cramps, made worse by movement
  • Leg or foot swelling
  • Leg deformity or grating of bone ends
  • Limited range of motion or inability to walk

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compression upon the posterior tibial nerve where it runs along the inner ankle. Causes include prolonged walking or wearing new shoes, injuries, swelling of tendons in rheumatoid arthritis, and so on. Symptoms include:

  • Foot pain, numbness, tingling or burning around the inner ankle or the sole of the foot, aggravated by standing or walking, and partially relieved by rest
  • Foot weakness


Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder of an uncertain cause, in which you experience an irresistible urge to move your legs. Symptoms include:

  • Creeping, tugging, itching or pulling sensation in legs, worsening at rest and partially or completely resolving by moving legs
  • Symptoms worsen at evening and may disrupt sleep

Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis is an inflammation of the whole width of one segment of the spinal cord. The exact cause is not known. It can occur at any age, but mainly affects people between 2o and 40 years of age. Symptoms may include:

  • Localized lower back pain
  • Burning, numbness, tingling or partial paralysis of both legs
  • Urinary bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Headache, fever, and loss of appetite
  • Respiratory problems
  • Weakness in the arms

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis can cause numbness or tingling in one or both legs, arms and other body parts. Problems with vision, hearing, urinating, and tiredness are other common symptoms.


Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a rare hereditary disease of nerves causing weakness and decreased sensation in the legs (and sometimes in the arms). Symptoms include:

  • Loss of muscles and weakness in your legs and feet
  • High foot arches
  • Curled toes (hammertoes)
  • Numbness and pain in your legs and feet

Marfan Syndrome

Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder of the connective tissue; symptoms include long thin stature, joint hypermobility, leg pain and numbness around the knees.


History. Pain, starting in the back and radiating to the leg, is mostly caused by a pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve (radiculopathy), occurring in spinal disorders. Check a medical history questionnaire to recall more symptoms and circumstances.

Clinical examination. Special ambulatory tests, including detailed checking of sensitivity in the leg can reveal which nerves are involved.

Investigations. MRI of the spine shows most of spinal disorders. X-ray can show broken bones in the leg.


The cause has to be treated in most cases.

Related Articles:

About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
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Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

  • AM_24

    Hello, I’ve wrote here ~2 weeks ago about mild numbness/weakness in my left arm and left leg. These symptoms were accompanied by lightheadedness, fatigue, etc which were later partially relieved by anti-stress pills (so I think those were from anxiety (?)).

    I went to a neurologist, who sent me to a cerebral+cervical MRI. The cerebral was all fine, the cervical spine showed something, but I can’t figure the technical report out. My doctor only said that one of the disks (C5-C6 I think) is a bit moved from its place (it also says something about cervical lordosis, but my doc didn’t mention this). Basically he put all my symptoms on this diagnosis, and said that a nerve is being touched, and that’s where all these are coming from. He also said that I have not much to worry about, try not to force my spine, go swimming once a week, some neuromultivit and a creme called ‘Apireven’ to use on the affected cervical area.

    I’m just confused now how will it fix itself, because I don’t feel much better, and it’s a bit strange for me to magically get better, after all this suffering I’ve been through; it must have had a primal cause which started all this. What’s your opinion?


  • Jan Modric


    depending on the exact nature of a cervical disc disorder, physical therapy, avoiding prolonged sitting, avoiding carrying heavy bags may ease the pain a bit. Multivitamins and cremes themselves obviously do not treat neurological pain caused by physical pressure of the disc. When these measures do not help, a surgery is usually the next option. A spinal disorder that seems mild on MRI can cause severe symptoms, but neurologists often judge about the severity of spinal disorders from what they can see on MRI – this commonly causes conflicts between neurologists and patients. So, if the conservative measures won’t help and symptoms will greatly affect your daily life, I encourage you to discuss with a doctor about a surgery.

  • AM_24


    How would a surgery help? I mean what’s the procedure, what does it affect?
    Personally I would stay as far away from the knife as possible :(

  • Jan Modric


    it depends on the nature of the disc disorder, but a part of the disc can be removed, remodeled, fixed in the way that it would stop pressing upon the nerve(s) that supply your arm. This is a common procedure which is successful in a great percent of cases. It is important you have a neurologist you can trust. Like said some physiotherapy might help (a doctor should tell), but please do not allow just any chiropractor to vigorously manipulate your neck, since your condition can worsen.

  • AM_24


    Okay, thanks for the info :)
    Sadly the prolonged sitting can’t be avoided because my work requires it. I will try to take more breaks though. I don’t really trust my neurologist because it’s a “public” one, don’t really know him. However I’ve talked to another specialist and he had the same opinion, that it’s not that serious, and the disk is not actually pressing on the nerve (yet?), just touching it. So I’m all fine with these, but I still don’t know how will it fix itself, but I will follow their advices. And no, I won’t let any chiropractor touch me; although I occasionally used to crack my neck after a sitting period :(. I’ve quit that habit now. I would also do some exercises at home, but I was told not to (on my own), because I might do them incorrectly and only worsen the situation.

  • cpotcpot

    6 years ago, I went out for a walk and my feet got numb, then it started moving up my legs, until it stopped. My legs got very weak and I could hardly walk. It mostly went away, but I still have some numbness and weakness. I went to a neurologist, and she tested my reflexes, and they were good, as they were also good 6 years ago. 6 years ago, they did an mri and thought it was guillian barre syndrome. This neuro thinks it wasn’t guillian barre syndrome, and did another mri, and she said it showed a herniated disk, but she cant figure out what caused the sudden progression up my leg of weakness and numbness. What do you think?

  • Jan Modric


    I don’t know if you had a Guillain-Barre syndrome 6 years ago; anyway recovery after this condition is usually complete, so symptoms you have now are more likely caused by a herniated disc. Specific exercises, as instructed by a neurologist or physiotherapist may sometimes help; if not a surgery is an option.

  • Melody

    At the point of age when i learnt to walk i always use to walk on my toes still even to the point of my age now (12yrs old) my feet now get a tingling and aching sensation through them I’ve had this feeling for about 4yrs now and still dont know why i cant relax without the feeling of me needing to walk around what do i do…?

  • Manish

    Hi Sir,

    I am 28 year male, before 8 month ago I had bike accident and I was admitted in hospital. In hospital, Neurology doctor suggest MRI of brain & screening of whole spine because of head injury .
    In my first Brain MRI on May month, MRI report Impression
    -Diffuse axonal injury.
    -Small hemorrhagic contusion in superior vermis.
    -Small subacute extra- axial hematoma in the right anterior temporal & right high frontal region.


    Whole Spine screening Impression:
    -C5-6 and C6-7 discs show mild diffuse bulge indenting the thecal sac.
    -Vertebrae show normal marrow intensity and morphology.
    -Cord show normal signal and morphology.
    -No cord compression is seen.

    After saw my report, doctor recommended medicines & physiotherapy exercise because of my right side numberless, tinglings & heaviness. After taken recommended medicines & physiotherapy continues, my right side work but heaviness not resolve in my right figures & lower right leg due to this difficult in walking & writing smoothly. I am continue taking recommend medicines & doing physiotherapy exercise.

    In my last Brain MRI report on September, report impression
    -No focal cerabral parenchymal lesion is noted. Please correlate Clinically

    Is any advance/effective treatment to resolve my heaviness on my right side or how much time to be taken to resolve heaviness. Please suggest me.

  • ChrisCan

    Several weeks ago I started getting sporadic occurrences of a sharp stabbing pain in my upper left thigh. It only lasts a few seconds each time. Sometimes having several ‘pains’ back to back – then nothing for days. It is debilitating when it happens. The leg sort of stops working while the pain is there. Residual dull ache follows for a few minutes. Yesterday I was bent over at the hips/waist for a couple of minutes and found that I was unable to stand up after. My lower back was totally numb on both sides (could not feel touch) and there was a heavy dull ache. Forced myself into an upright position (with more pain), numbness subsided after a few minutes. Has not reoccurred with bending since. I’m an active 51 yr old female. Walks long distances daily. Works standing. Had abdominal surgery 16 months ago for stage III colon cancer.

  • Jan Modric


    I think you should speak with your parents, reveal them your problem, and they can then decide, if you need to see an ortopedist, who can check if there is something wrong with muscles, bones or nerves in your legs or feet.

  • Jan Modric


    this is the question for an experienced neurologist. If you think you don’t get enough information from your current doctor, you can ask for a second opinion about your last MRI image and prognosis. You ca also ask a physiotherapist, if you can expect further improvement after 8 months. According to my knowledge, it is the first year after a brain injury, during which you can expect significant improvement. I do encourage you to continue with both medications and physiotherapy.

  • Jan Modric


    pains in legs and back could be from affected spinal nerves that arise from the lumbar spine. I strongly recommend you to visit a neurologist to check for a lumbar spine disorder, like a bulging disc, or/and gastroenterologist to check for eventual recurrence of the colon cancer (which could affect the mentioned nerves).

  • footweakness

    L4 L5 disk fragments caused some root nerve damage. Fragments removed but I am left with weak toes, foot & ankle. I have also notices periodic issues with balance. What can I do to regain strength & balance in my foot?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Footweakness

    It depends on the extent of the damage. Your should see a neurologist and phsycial therapist who can advise you further on recovery. If the damage to the nerve is extensive and irreversible then your options may be limited.

  • Sal

    This is a follow-up to an earlier post – I’ll restate some of the information, and try to make it succinct.

    For the past six or seven months, I have suffered from intermittent buzzing in miscellaneous parts of my body from the hip down. It seems to be generally associated with movement, and the exact location varies from time to time. For example, since yesterday, when I step on my left foot, I feel a throbbing/buzzing (no pain) in my left toe, and when I move my toe up or down, I feel the same buzzing. However, as I sit here, I feel no buzzing, even (sometimes) when I move it. The day before, I felt a slight buzzing on the side of my hip for an hour or so, and then it stopped; and I have had it before, pretty much with the same level/time frame of buzzing. Typically, any sensation occurs on the left side, but I have had slight buzzing for a an hour or so on some part of my right foot every week or so for a couple of hours – sometimes on top, sometimes on bottom. When I have it, it will be typically be there for a few minutes, disappear for an hour, come back for a couple of minutes, disappear for maybe a few hours, then probably won’t be back the next day. Initially, when this all started, I had the buzzing sensation in my leg over the course of a month, it went away for a couple of months, and then came back.

    Sometimes this buzzing seems to be a very fine twitching, but sometimes just like a very fine vibrating. It comes and goes throughout the day usually. Sometimes, it won’t be there at all in the morning, then later in the afternoon, it will be there for an hour or two, and then disappear, and then re-appear for ten minutes late in the evening. It isn’t a constant problem over the course of the day, but in general, it is there at some point every day.

    There is no loss of feeling or weakness anywhere in my body; no visual problems, etc. I am a male in my early 40’s. I had an occasional warm feeling in my foot, but that has not been present for months.

    My GP ordered me to have an MRI of my lower back with contrasting agent a few months back, after running misc tests, e.g. B12, Lyme, etc (all fine) – the result was that I have “very minor” bulging between L4/L5 and between L5/S1, but no “pinched” nerves. She seems to think that this is the cause of the buzzing, and told me simply that there is very little to do, except for stretching. Typically, I do not have a sore back, but yesterday and today, it feels somewhat sore, which has coincided with this toe buzzing.

    However, I continued to worry about these sensations, and I noticed for a few weeks that I had some very minor muscle twitching (though nothing like buzzing) in other areas of my body – this was a month or so ago. I would feel a small twitch in my left arm, see minor movement under the skin, and then an half hour later, would feel the same on my right shoulder, or on my pinky, or in the palm of my hand. The sensations would last for two or three seconds, and then stop. Again, no weakness or loss of feeling. Haven’t had any of these twitches for a few weeks. My friend suggested that I may have BFS, and that the buzzing in my hip/leg/feel may be the cause of the buzzing as well, instead of the minor bulges in my disks.

    Is it possible that I have BFS? And could minor bulges in my discs cause the symptoms that I have in my hip/feet/legs, especially given the fact that movement seems to make the symptoms worse?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sal

    With bulging, there is often some compression of the nerve root (pinched nerve). It may not be constant but could arise during certain movements/positions resulting in impingement on the nerve. Benign fasiculation syndrome is a possibility but the diagnosis will only be reached upon excluding other neurological and muscular conditions that can contribute to these symptoms. It is however worth discussing it with your doctor. You may have chronic nerve injury unrelated to underlying conditions (Lyme, B12, diabetes) that may be a consequence of other types of injury (chemical- heavy metals, etc, stretch injury) which may also have to be considered in your diagnosis. This should be evaluated by your neurologist and in these cases a history would greatly help your physician in assessing for conditions that with otherwise be overlooked. It is difficult for us to answer your questions conclusively as your doctor is fully aware of your condition/history and therefore it is your doctor who should be able to answer your questions, take your concerns into consideration and consider other investigations based on the current presentation as well as your case history.

  • Randy

    My wife is 50 yrs old and for the past five months has had deep seated pain in her left buttock, pain, tingling and numbness down the inside of her left leg and extending into her foot. We had it diagnosed as Piriformis Syndrome but when she attempted to do the exercises associated with that diagnoses the symptoms got worse. She also has tingling and numbness extending down her left arm and into her hand as well. She has had a CT scan, bone scan, xrays and prescribed medicine for nerve problems and pain .. unfortunately nothing is working and the doctors are baffled.

    Can anyone help please?

  • Melisa

    My name is Melisa and I’m 17. About 3 days ago my tibia felt like it was numb, the feeling has not gone away but it has grew.the numbess is still on the front side of my leg, but has grew from my ankle to right underneath my knee. I’ve looked online and hAve gotten nothing and my local clinic Is bloody hopeless and would look at me like I’m stupid if I were to try to explain to them the problem. What is it??!! It’s honestly starting to freak me out. Someone… Help?? :(

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Melissa

    It is difficult to say with any level of certainty why this has arise without assessing it and running various investigations. If you had any injury that preceded the onset of these symptoms, even by a week or so before, then this could be the cause. Many of the causes that would be suspected in an older person or with some underlying chronic condition may not be an immediate consideration in your case give your age. So this is why your local clinic may be “ignoring” your complaints.

    Overall it is unlikely to be serious in a person of your age but this should not negate the fact that it may be due to a serious underlying disease. As you can see from the article above, there are various possible causes. The more likely cause in a person of your age, apart from injury, is circulatory problems, especially if you are inactive or overweight. Certain skin diseases and even heavy metal poisoning are also a possibility but you do not mention any other signs and symptoms so it is difficult to comment any further. It may be time to see a private doctor or even consult with a neurologist. If these symptoms started after taking any medication, etc, then you need to report this to your doctor.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Randy

    The slight aggravation of the symptoms after starting the exercises are not uncommon. It would only last for a few days and settle and the symptoms will slowly ease with time. However, the concurrent symptoms arising in the upper limb now is a concern. It is difficult to comment further from our side because we are not familiar with your wife’s case and as you said, even her doctors are baffled. But at this point in time your wife should be seeing a neurologist. If this has not already occurred then your doctor can give you a referral. If your wife has seen a neurologist who has given the all clear then you may now need the advice of an orthopedic specialist.

  • Sara

    I’m a 17 yr old female, and for the past three months I’ve been experiencing low back pain, followed my tingling and numbness in my both legs but more in the right. I went for an MRI and I have a minor herniated disc at L4-L5. I’ve been going to physio ever since the back pain began, but it doesn’t seem to be helping too much. Now I have on and off numbness in my right arm and hand. I can barely walk after sitting or standing for long periods of time. I saw a neurosurgeon and he said the herniation is too minor to be causing these symptoms. He ordered a MRI for the rest of my spine and brain just incase.
    Do you have any thoughts?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sara

    There are several other possibilities like neurodegenerative diseases and peripheral neuropathies which may not be due to a herniated disc. This is not frequently seen in your age group except in a person who is obese or has suffered a significant back injury. Hopefully autoimmune disorders and nutritional deficiencies have already been excluded. The MRI that your neurosurgeon ordered is the next step and you should wait for the results before considering other possibilities.

  • Abi

    Hello, I am experiencing numbness in my lower right leg. It happens everyday and lasts for maybe a minute. It started 4 days ago when I walked all day in high heels (2 inches only) but my legs were not really that tired. I applied efficascent oil and massaged it but the next day the numbness still happened. I do exercise every morning. I am wondering why this numbness suddenly happened and should I be alarmed and consult a doctor? I am thinking if i just need to do a specific exercise for my leg. Thanks in advance!

  • Georgia

    Hey my names georgia
    I’m 16 years old and at school.
    Yesterday morning i walked like a 15 minuite walk and my feet got really weak to the point where i couldnt stand on them!The night i got home i had like a itching tingling feeling at my feet/toes and like my foot was tightening up i though it was something to do with my socks but now i have got i again?! Do you have any explanation of what this could be?? please write back to me at [EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED].
    Thanks Georgia

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Abi

    It is always advisable to speak to your family doctor irrespective of how minor the ailment may be. The heels, however, need to go in order for you to exclude possible causes. There is no way to answer your question about the reason for the numbness without knowing the results of further tests and findings upon examination. This has to be done by your doctor.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Georgia

    If this is the first time it occurred and it ease up by today then it may not be too much to be concerned about given your age. If you are not accustomed to walk this distance or undertake any such physical activity then it is possible that this is just muscle strain. However, you should always discuss your symptoms with a parent and possibly see a doctor just to exclude other underlying causes.



  • Shashank

    I have weird sensations of tingling/numbness in both ny knees an at times radiates to my feet. It happens more when I am sleeping and also have sensations in my hands fingers. I am nit able to sleep well. I also get pain/ strain on my right cheek and back of right ear near the neck.
    Please help me as I am worried about my quality of life being effected. Btw I’m 26 m weighing 136 lbs and 5ft 10.

  • jo-jo

    I had a c4-6 fusion in jan. Since going back to work I have had pain and spasms in my shoulders again , but my arm pain is now down the back of my arms into my little fingers. I also get pain under my left arm into the breast area. I have a bulging disc at c2-3 but have been told this would not cause that type of pain. Also I have bulging discs at l3-5. I have numbness and weakness in my left leg and some numbness in my right calf and toes. I also get tingling sensations like goosebumps in my thighs, lower back, down my left arm, and up the back of my head. These are concerning me and the dr just seems to be dismissing them. My job has me doing continuous standing( 4 hours), lifting, reaching, twisting, turning and sitting (4hours). I want to go back to my job, but am concerned it will make matters worse

  • BewildredBrunette

    Hi there,

    On September 11, I had a pretty good fall off of an artificial bull and bent my lower back in an unnatural way (ie my back folded so that my heels touched the back of my head) I heard a few cracks and pops…over the next few weeks I did hurt quite a bit but the pain slowly subsided to a more tolerable level.

    I have increased my level of activity/exercise over the past three weeks or so to help manage some stress and anxiety. This includes 3-5 hours of yoga each week as well as aerobic (treadmill) exercise 2-4 times per week for approx. 30 minutes as well as light weight lifting.

    Since this increase, I have noticed that my back pain has become slightly more noticeable. Also, both of my feet tingle for a few seconds upon rising from bed in the morning. Sometimes as well, I find that my left leg in particular feels a sort of dull ache throughout the day accompanied by periodic episodes of pins and needles mostly in the foot but occasionally in my calf. In addition, I’ve also noticed that my legs to feet fall asleep while sitting on a toilet??!

    It appears that I may have injured my back more than I cared to admit in the first place but could my new exercise routine have caused further injury resulting in these new symptoms?? Or is it more likely unrelated?? I have seen my gp about it but she wasn’t really able to offer much help…just said to keep up the exercise/yoga and that if something hurts, don’t do it. Also, if the tingling should continue or get worse she’ll send me for further testing.

    In the meantime I’m left to my own devices and that’s never good! What do you think?? Is it likely related?? An I off my rocker worrying about it?

    Thanks for any advice you can offer!

    P.S. I’m 34 years old and taking a bc pill and a low dose beta blocker (neither of which should affect me this way according to my gp)