If you are experiencing numbness in your foot or leg, it may be time to see a back doctor. In fact, hip pain, numbness in your leg and foot, or general tingling in those areas may be a sign of problems that are treatable in many cases.
Let’s take a look at how the nerves in your back can affect your feet and legs, and at a few conditions that may cause numbness or tingling in your leg and foot. Then, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to treat those sensations.
Can back problems cause numbness in your feet and legs?
While there can be a variety of causes for numbness in the leg and feet, it is often caused by a problem in the back that is affecting the nerves. Because of the structure of the central nervous system, all of the nerves in the legs travel through the spine. This means that when something is wrong in the back, the pelvis, or the hips, it is frequently felt in the legs and feet.
What might be causing the numbness in my leg and foot?
Only your doctor can say for certain what might be causing your particular discomfort. Even so, we’ve compiled a list of several of the most common causes of numbness if the foot and leg, so you can plan your conversation with your provider.
Sciatica is a very common problem. The Cleveland Clinic says “about 40% of people in the U.S. experience sciatica sometime during their life.”
On our sciatica website page, we explain that “Sciatic pain occurs when the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lumbar spine through the hip and down the back of the leg, becomes compressed, often by a herniated disc, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine (stenosis).“
Sciatica causes pain that varies a bit from person to person. Sciatica pain can present as a burning sensation, a mild ache, or zinging jolts. Sometimes sciatica patients report numbness or tingling in the leg and foot.
As we age, our spine often degenerates. This process is called osteoarthritis. As you might suspect, one of the symptoms of spinal arthritis is numbness in the leg and feet. Other symptoms might include stiffness or pain in the neck or back.
On our website, we mention that “The pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis of the spine are due to the breakdown of cartilage between the facet joints of the vertebrae. This type of pain is sometimes referred to as facet joint pain.”
Sometimes called a “slipped disc,” Mount Sinai explains, “Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra in the spinal column becomes fractured and the spine slips out of place, usually in the lumbar area. Back pain, numbness in the extremities, or sensory loss can be caused by nerve root compression as a result of the slippage.”
This condition can cause tingling and numbness in the lower leg and foot, as well as other symptoms including leg pain, lower back pain, and stiffness.
When one of the discs that separate our vertebrae ruptures, this is called a herniated disc. This can cause pressure on the nerves in the spine, and that, in turn, can cause leg numbness, or a pins and needles sensation in the legs and feet.
The symptoms of a herniated disc will depend on where the damaged disc is located. In particular, as we explain on our website, “lumbar disc herniations often cause intense pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, sometimes reaching all the way down to the ankle or foot”
How to get rid of numbness in the leg and foot
The best way to get rid of numbness in your leg and foot is to see your doctor. In some cases, the treatment they recommend may include physical therapy, exercise, or injections. In other cases, they may determine that ice or heat therapy may treat your numb hips and legs. See here a step-by-step guide for relieving nerve pain caused by a pinched nerve, or other medical condition.
If these conditions don’t improve, or if you have severe spinal cord or nerve damage, your doctor may even suggest surgery as the best course of action.
If you are in the Phoenix area, Dr. Baig and his team at Desert Spine & Scoliosis Center would be happy to discuss the numbness in your leg and foot.