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Introduction

What is leg numbness?

Leg numbness is an abnormal condition in which you feel a loss of sensation in the legs. You can have numbness of one (unilateral) or both (bilateral leg numbness) legs. Numbness in the legs may also extend to your toes.

Leg numbness is usually due to a lack of blood supply to an area or nerve damage. Leg numbness can also result from infection, inflammation, trauma, and other abnormal processes. Most cases of leg numbness are not due to life-threatening disorders, but it does occur with stroke and tumors.

Leg numbness is often associated with or preceded by pain-like pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations called paresthesias. Whereas leg numbness is a loss of sensation, paralysis involves a loss of movement, with or without the loss of sensation in the area.

Depending on the cause, the loss of sensation can disappear quickly, such as numbness in the buttocks and legs after sitting with your legs crossed for a long time. Numbness can occur suddenly or progress slowly. Chronic leg numbness generally indicates some level of damage to the nerves. Leg numbness may also be worse at night, which is common for paresthesias in general.

Because leg numbness or numbness in general may be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition, you should talk with your medical professional about any unusual sensations or leg numbness that last more than a few minutes.

If you experience leg numbness with loss of bladder or bowel control, paralysis, confusion, weakness in the leg, or slurred speech, seek immediate medical attention in an emergency facility. If your leg numbness is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

Medical Reviewers: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Review Date: Aug 5, 2013

© 2014 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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