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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  • Karina

    Hello, I fell about two and a half weeks ago on my porch stairs and landed on my back.. Left side on my lower back was mostly impacted and the pain kind of went away for the most part.. A few days ago though my left leg started to feel a bit tingly… So could this be nerve damage ? What treatment does this require ?

  • Cherie A Erison Greenwell

    I have had severe swelling in my feet ankles and lower legs that has caused numbness and tingalling for almost a month as well as cronic heart burn 3 or 4 times a day can someone please tell me why

  • Teresa Mikrut

    I fell in March 2014 and broke the very bottom of my sacrum and tailbone–displaced and fragmented. About a month after that I developed a weird numbness (some muscle weakness in legs) that the doctor treated with caudal injections. It improved greatly, but I did notice residual polyneuropathy that seemed to get progressively worse. About 2 weeks ago (June 2015), my legs (actually just above to hips all the way to my toes) has developed the weird numbness again. It’s happened about 4 or 5 times over the last couple of weeks. When it happens, it tends to last all day and improve after resting overnight. The last time it happened, it did the same thing until eventually it was all day every day, and it made it difficult to walk especially on uneven surfaces. The tops of my feet (at times) fell very cold although they are warm to the touch. My lower back, near the spine causes me moderate pain at times. How worried should I be?

  • Hi Teresa. It is possible that this is related to your previous injury and hopefully you have consulted with an orthopedist and neurologist. It is difficult to say for certain how severe the condition is through an online platform or how worries you should be. It is possible that there is still some nerve compression or irritation as a result of your injury, or these symptoms could be an entirely new condition not related to you fall. The only way to know for sure is to consult with an orthopedist or neurologist and have it assessed further.

  • vc

    I fell on a rock when I went hiking and hurt my coccyx. It will be 2 weeks tomorrow and I do feel better. I still have a bit of pain when I put pressure but I do feel like I’m healing. The thing is that I’m feeling a funny sensation on my toes foot and knee I don’t want to say is numbing but I don’t know what to call it, is this normal?

  • Roseann Granger

    I have been experiencing some numbness in the ball of my foot; along with the sensation of having a bunched up sock at the base of the toes when walking. This morning I awake to find that the outer toes and the ball of that foot are semi numb. I am 56 and 5 foot 6 inches weight about 200. I know I am considerably overweight, and am trying to work on this. I have also been placing more stress on this foot; as the other side has Achilles tendonitis that has come around to the outer side of the ankle as well and is extremely painful. My gait is off with limping; and I am experiencing pain in the opposite hip and lower back (the weight bearing side). This is progressively getting worse, and I have been to my family dr. He didn’t even touch my ankle… but said that tendonitis takes a long time to heal.

  • Chris Stanley

    Please learn to turn off your caps lock when you type things

  • Marcelo Ramos

    In 2010 I experienced a lower back spasm which kept me from working for 2 weeks. I work in an office environment which means I have to spend long hours sitting. Since this initial episode I have always experienced varying amounts of lower back pain but I have been able to manage this most of the time.

    Earlier this year I changed jobs, which meant going through setting up my workstation all over again. The adjustments I made meant I was able to find a position where my back pay finally went away. However, around the same time (about 3 months ago) I started noticing some prickling on my left shoulder. Sometimes this would radiate to the right one but not often.

    Then, early November, I began to feel a very strong tingling sensation on both my legs. At the time this meant I could not sit for more than a couple of minutes as it would become too uncomfortable beyond that. However, there has been no pain or weakness associated with this. I am very active and cycle 20km or more per day. I have had no impact to my lifestyle other than the inability to sit for long periods, and the annoyance of tingling limbs for no apparent good reason.

    I have seen my practitioner and a physio, and none of them have been willing to request some imaging of my back to be done, which is quite frustrating. I am fairly sure I am experiencing this due to a spinal problem, but I find it rather strange that there is almost no pain associated with the tingling. Is this unheard of?

  • Hi Marcelo. Your symptoms could very well be related to your job and the long hours of sitting. As you have correctly pointed out there may be an underlying spinal problem but it is difficult to say for sure without the necessary investigations. It is also possible that your current symptoms may not be related to the incident in 2010. It would be advisable that you get a second opinion from another doctor. You may also need to consult with a neurologist as there are many other conditions that could account for these symptoms and may not be related to occupational strain or obvious spinal conditions like nerve root compression (pinched nerve).

  • vc

    I feel better now, but now I got stuck with back pain ?

  • Brad

    Hey im 25, When i was 18 i got punched in the back which instantly gave me pins and needles in my legs and feet. I had weakness as well. I went to the doctors but everything seemed fine to them i was able to show full movement without pain however i constantly continued complaining of the tingles. I regained Strength on my own and have pretty much lived with the tingles since. The other day however since doing exercises iv got the tingles in my calves and it is beginning to p me off knowing its always there. Iv had scans however i keep getting the all clear. What do i need to do in order to get something done. Its always there im guessing its a pinched nerve but what next do i do. Just cope with it forever like i have been or is there something that can be done. Its annoying always been knocked back and it makes me feel like im just a hypochondriac.

  • krparkerone

    I am 43 yrs old and have a few extra lbs on me (maybe more like 15-20 extra lbs) and in my effort to be more active over the years, I’ve found that as much as I love to walk (closer to speed walking), I can’t go beyond 1.5-2 miles without my toes on my right foot going numb, tingling & hurting really bad. All but my big toe, actually. It’s so disappointing because if I didn’t have this problem, I would walk more often, further distances. The pain gets to be almost unbearable & I have to stop until it subsides enough to continue on to get back home or to my car. I never damaged my leg or foot that I know of. I’ve tried all kinds of walking shoes, different or no socks, barefoot as well as different methods of walking. I tried focusing on heel first, toe first – you name it. I’ve literally taught myself to walk again in a few different ways. Nothing really helps. Anyone else experience anything similar?

  • Hi Krparkerone. These symptoms could be due to strain when walking but there is also the possibility of conditions like peripheral artery disease. In this condition the flow of blood is limited due to a narrowing in the artery and with increased physical activity like walking the blood flow is insufficient for the increased demands. Another possibility is that there may be compression of the nerve to the leg and walking worsens it. As you can see there are several possibilities and you shoudl follow up with your doctor. Further tests may be needed before a diagnosis can be reached.

  • Hi Ashley. Crossing your legs for long hours on a daily basis as well as a host of other positions and activities can cause nerve compression. However, this may not fully explain the symptoms that you are experiencing. There may be more to it like compression of the nerve root from the spine or various other conditions. The compression by crossing your legs cannot explain this inability to move your toes entirely. You should speak to your family doctor and get a referral to a neurologist for further investigation.

  • Frank Barreto

    My name is Frank. About 3 years ago I had an injury to my right foot, a side frame from a bed that I was attempting to lift fell on my foot. My foot was black and blue for a few weeks and then it went away. I didn’t have any pain after that so I didn’t think about it. About a year ago I started to notice that my right foot, especially my three middle toes were getting numb all of the time. I went to a doctor but he couldn’t find anything wrong with my foot. Now, the situation has gotten worse, it hurts when I walk , the bottom of my feet feel like i’m stepping on marbles when I walk. I don’t know what I have, but I do know that I’m not diabetic. So, what to do? I figure I should try a specialist, a foot doctor and see what they have to say before it gets to the point where I can’t walk at all. I’m 65 years old and it’s frustrating when you can’t get a straight answer from someone. I tried going to emergency and was told that they couldn’t do anything for me, you believe that? It’s very frustrating, I need my feet to get around. Some feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!