Do You Get Numbness Or Tingling In Your Lower Leg Or Foot?
Watch this video to find causes of numbness and tingling in the lower leg and foot, plus one really unique exercise to relieve it.
Causes Of Numbness and Tingling In The Lower Leg And Foot
There are a lot of potential causes of numbness and tingling in the lower leg and foot.
- Neuropathy (i.e. from diabetes)
- Lower back radiculopathy
- A hip problem
- A compressed nerve in your lower leg
This post is primarily going to cover information about numbness and tingling that's referred from your lower back plus one very unique exercise for a compressed nerve in your lower leg.
But first, we'll briefly cover some of the other topics mentioned above and link to resources for each of those problems.
The term neuropathy literally means "a pathology of the nerves", so truly any type of nerve problem is technically a neruopathy.
However, in modern day society where diabetes is becoming an epidemic (especially in the United States), the term neuropathy has become widely associated with diabetic neuropathy.
If you have diabetes, there's a chance the numbness and tingling in your lower legs and feet is caused by diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is when chronically high blood sugar levels damage your nerves.
The primary symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are pain and numbness in your lower legs and feet, usually on both sides. This is referred to as a "stocking" pattern of numbness.
If your numbness and tingling is only on one side (i.e. the right or left leg), the more likely cause is from a pinched nerve in your back, hip, or lower leg.
Pinched Nerve at L4, L5, or S1
If you're getting numbness
If you're getting one-sided numbness and tingling in your lower leg and foot, the chances are most likely that the pain is coming from your back.
The L4, L5, and S1 nerve roots are the most common nerves that cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the lower leg and foot.
The L4 nerve root (white with red dots in the image below) refers symptoms down the inside of the lower leg (shin) and foot.
The L5 nerve root (yellow region in photo) can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the buttock, back of the thigh, outer lower leg, and the top of the foot, specifically around the big toe.
The S1 nerve root causes symptoms in the outer lower leg and the outside of the foot.
Lower back problems are extremely common. About 85% of people get lower back pain at some point in their life and about 5% of cases have some nerve root involvement.
Therefore, if you have numbness and tingling in either your right or left leg, first rule out a back problem. That's especially true if you have current or past back pain.
Old back injuries can show up years later, so make sure you get your back checked out first.
What Else Can Cause Numbness And Tingling In The Lower Leg And Foot?
Your Sciatic Nerve
Another source of numbness and tingling in the leg and foot is your sciatic nerve where it exits your buttock.
This is sometimes referred to as piriformis syndrome.
The sciatic nerve passes under (or sometimes through) the piriformis muscle in your hip, and this can be a possible site of nerve compression.
This is less likely if the tingling is ONLY in the outside of your leg and the top of the foot. However, if your numbness and tingling is in your entire foot, this piriformis syndrome might be a possibility.
Your Hip Muscles
Your outer hip muscles can cause pain, numbness, or tingling on the outside of your leg as well. Pain is the more common symptom, but every now and then the muscles in your hip can cause numbness or tingling.
The picture below shows the referral pattern of the gluteus minius muscle, which is similar to that of the S1 nerve root.
Your Fibular Nerve (a.k.a. Peroneal Nerve)
A branch of your sciatic nerve runs along the back of the outside of the knee and then splits into two branches. One branch goes to the outside of the leg, the other branch goes to the top of the foot.
If you get numbness or tingling in the outside of the lower leg and top of the foot, the fibular nerve is the second most likely problem.
The unique stretch in the video above can be used if the fibular nerve is causing the tingling in the lower leg and foot.
Use This Exercise To Relieve Tingling In The Leg & Foot Caused By Fibular Nerve Problems:
Sit in a chair and cross one ankle over the opposite knee
Pull up on the outside of lower leg bone (tibia) while pushing down on the inside of the thigh bone (femur).
This translates the lower leg bones on the upper leg bones and can help stress from the fibular nerve.
Other Things To Keep In Mind
You still might have a back problem, even if the fibular nerve is part of the problem. It is possible to have both, especially when the tingling in the leg and foot has lasted a long time.
Overpronation of your feet when walking and lack of ankle or calf flexibility can also be problems affecting the fibular nerve. Proper calf stretching and Custom Orthotics can help.
Diabetic Neuropathy (neuro = "nerve", pathy = "disease") can also cause tingling in the legs an feet. If you have diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is under control. Diabetes basically makes the nervous system less healthy overall, and more vulnerable to other problems. That being said, the tips in this post can still help diabetics to relieve numbness and tingling in the legs and feet, but proper blood sugar control is also needed.
See a healthcare professional to get things checked out if you have tingling in your leg and foot, particularly if it has lasted a long time. In some cases, even chronic tingling in the leg and foot can be helped with proper treatment!
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