What causes numbness or tingling in the leg or foot and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

Have you ever experienced a strange sensation of numbness or tingling in your leg or foot? If so, you may be wondering what could be causing these symptoms and what you should do about it. In this article, we will explore the various potential causes of numbness and tingling in the leg or foot and provide valuable insights on how to address this issue.

Understanding Numbness and Tingling

Numbness in the leg or foot refers to a loss of sensation or feeling in the affected area. It can range from a mild tingling sensation to a complete lack of sensation. Tingling, on the other hand, is often described as a pins-and-needles sensation or a feeling of “electricity” running through the leg or foot.

Causes of Numbness in the Leg

There are several potential causes of numbness in the leg, including:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: This condition occurs when there is damage to the nerves that transmit signals between the brain and the legs. Diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and certain medications can contribute to peripheral neuropathy.
  • Herniated disc: When a disc in the spine becomes damaged or slips out of place, it can put pressure on the nerves that travel down the leg, leading to numbness.
  • Sciatica: This condition is characterized by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down to the legs. Numbness in the leg is a common symptom of sciatica.
  • Peripheral artery disease: Reduced blood flow to the legs due to narrowed or blocked arteries can cause numbness and tingling.

Causes of Numbness in the Foot

Similarly, there are various causes of numbness in the foot, including:

  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome: This condition occurs when the tibial nerve, which runs along the inside of the ankle, becomes compressed or damaged. Numbness and tingling in the foot are common symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
  • Morton’s neuroma: This is a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes. It can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the foot.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: As mentioned earlier, peripheral neuropathy can also cause numbness and tingling in the foot.
  • Foot injuries: Trauma or injury to the foot, such as a sprain or fracture, can lead to temporary numbness or tingling.

What Should You Do?

If you are experiencing numbness or tingling in your leg or foot, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. However, there are a few steps you can take in the meantime:

  • Rest and elevate the affected leg or foot to reduce any swelling or inflammation that may be contributing to the symptoms.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack to the area to help alleviate any pain or discomfort.
  • Avoid activities that worsen the symptoms, such as prolonged standing or walking.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet.
  • Consider gentle stretching exercises or physical therapy to improve flexibility and relieve pressure on the affected nerves.

It is important to note that the treatment for numbness or tingling in the leg or foot will depend on the underlying cause. Therefore, seeking professional medical advice is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.


Numbness and tingling in the leg or foot can be caused by various factors, including peripheral neuropathy, herniated discs, sciatica, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and foot injuries. While there are steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms temporarily, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Remember, each case is unique, and a healthcare professional will be able to provide personalized guidance to address your specific situation. Don’t ignore these symptoms; take action and seek medical advice to ensure your well-being and comfort.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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