Numbness in One Leg – What Causes Numbness in One Leg?

numbness in one leg

Everyone experiences a bit of numbness in one leg or both legs every now and then. Sometimes, it is quite normal. But if you cannot see the cause straight away – such as holding your legs crossed for hours, chances are it is something more serious. Sometimes, the numbness is also associated with painful sensations, not to mention needles and pins.

Generally speaking, you stand up, walk around for a few minutes, shake your leg and things get back to normal. But then, this is the easy way. If the numbness or pain is caused by a different health concern, you may want to have a conversation with your specialist doctor. A bit of numbness will not kill you, but things can aggravate – you need to get to the bottom of the issue and fix it.

Numbness in one leg

Most commonly, the leg numbness is associated with a pinched nerve in the lower back or a herniated disc. The good news is that such problems are relatively simple to handle – sometimes, without even taking drugs. A healthier lifestyle, some exercise and rest will put you back on your feet in no time.​

Simply put, numbness and tingling sensations are nothing to be concerned about. There are, however, a few signs that should trigger you and push you to a doctor’s office. If the numbness lasts for about a week and seems to persist, you need specialist help. The same rule applies if the numbness moves to another area or expands to other parts of the body.

Numbness in one leg causes

1. The pinched nerve and its effects

The pinched nerve is probably the most common reason wherefore you might experience unexpected numbness in one leg. It is often referred to as a compressed or pressed nerve. There are no secrets about it – its name is self-explanatory.

There are more structures around the nerve, such as bones, tendons, muscles and so on. Each of them can pinch the nerve and sensations may vary widely. However, they all include some type of pain or at least some discomfort.

When it comes to a pinched nerve, anything can cause it – an unhealthy lifestyle, a demanding job or injuries and trauma. Apart from leg numbness, a pinched nerve will also cause pain around the sciatic nerve – usually from the lower back and all the way to the feet.

The good news is a pinched nerve can be treated without too much hassle. You need to make a few lifestyle changes, rest, avoid certain positions and keep your back strong. Medications are given when the pain is too severe.

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2. Herniated discs and numbness

A herniated disc represents another common reason wherefore you might end up with numbness in one leg – or even both of them. To understand how it works, you need to know what the spine looks like. It basically consists of more bones with some discs between them. These discs look like donuts. If the jam inside bursts out, the disc is herniated – known as ruptured or slipped too.

When the so-called jam is pushed backwards, it will put pressure on the nearby nerves. This is what causes numbness and weakness. Sometimes, numbness is also associated with tingling sensations.

herniated spinal disc

The bad news is that even a basic wrong move can send a disc the wrong way. However, the problem is more common in people who use their backs often – especially in work. Those who bend too much will most likely experience such issues at some point. As you bend forward, the jam is pushed backwards, hence the problem.

There are more ways to treat herniated discs. Just like for pinched nerves, exercises can work wonders in the long run. Again, you need to perform basic exercises specifically developed for such issues – such as gentle stretches. Ice packs and compresses will also help against the annoying pain, as well as painkillers.

Surgery is recommended in very severe cases – such as harsh traumas and injuries, yet this is the last resort and less likely to be needed.

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3. Diabetes

Most people overlook diabetes when it comes to numbness in one leg. They associate this problem with more physical issues – such as a demanding job or an injury. However, diabetes is a hidden enemy that can cause a series of other issues, so you should always keep an eye on it.

Always control your blood sugar. Fail to do so for a long period of time and sugar will inevitably build up. With time, it can negatively affect nerves transmitting messages – most commonly, the nerves connecting the spine and the brain. Other parts can also be affected, such as your legs.

There are dozens of different types of nerve damage – medically known as neuropathy. The diabetic type is the most popular one and mostly because diabetes is a very common disease.

The good news is neuropathy can be kept away. Prevention implies paying strict attention to the diet. Regular physical activity is also necessary, not to mention sticking to the treatment. Keep in mind that nerve damage is difficult to treat, yet there are different ways to keep the problematic symptoms under control.

You also need to keep an eye on your legs and feet and ensure nothing unusual occurs. Numbness means you may not feel other issues, such as a cut or a nick. These things may lead to problematic infections in the long run.

4. Peripheral artery disease

The PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) sounds scary at first. Arteries are basically narrowed, so the blood circulation is restricted. While the blood will still affect most parts of the body, extremities will not get as much blood as they need. Therefore, you can experience numbness in one leg or both legs – the issue is likely to affect arms as well.

Tingling sensations are just as common, but the affection will also make it difficult to walk due to the pain. From many points of view, the peripheral artery disease is a sign of something more dangerous – atherosclerosis. The disease means there is too much fat in the arteries. In the long run, the blood circulation can be seriously affected and may even lead to strokes or heart attacks.

To prevent such problems, quit smoking. Stick to healthy foods, so change your diet. Exercise more often too – if it is too late already, there are medical treatments that can keep all these issues under control.

5. Is multiple sclerosis a risk?

Multiple sclerosis is extremely common and tends to affect more women than men. Despite its incidence, it still hides a series of secrets. The autoimmune disease can react unexpectedly and may trigger different processes throughout the body.

To make it even worse, there is no such thing as a diagnostic test for this affection. Signs and symptoms vary widely and the affection can be mistaken for something else. Generally speaking, multiple sclerosis starts when the body starts attacking its own systems. Particular factors may increase the risk as well.

Numbness in one leg or both legs could be a direct result of this disease, but there are many more signs to consider before that.

6. Strokes and leg numbness

Anyone can get a stroke, yet this issue is more common in older patients. If you experience leg numbness and you are young, a stroke is less likely to be the cause. Strokes tend to occur after 60 years old, but this is not a general rule.

No matter how old you are, symptoms tend to be similar in every patient. It all starts with a slurred speech – the one suffering from stroke makes no sense to those around them. Numbness is very common too and may also affect arms. Weakness is just as common, not to mention paralysis. Paralysis tends to affect one side of the body only.

All these symptoms kick in out of nowhere and they are more common in those who suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure. Smoking is also a trigger.

Certain drugs can prevent the damage caused by some strokes, yet someone around you must react straight away. Seek help whenever you notice the first sign.

7. Tumors can cause numbness too

Finally, tumors might be responsible for leg numbness as well. These cases are quite rare, but not impossible. When growing, the tumor can put pressure or press against a nerve. Numbness and tingling sensations will inevitably occur too.

The tumor must be assessed by a specialist doctor. If it is cancerous, treatment is more diversified and may usually include chemotherapy. Unfortunately, this treatment is likely to cause peripheral neuropathy in some patients.

Your numbness is less likely to be caused by cancer though, but the doctor must assess all the signs and consider this risk if there are no other obvious factors.


As a short final conclusion, numbness in one leg may have more causes and each of them comes with its own particularities. Some of the above-mentioned causes are scary and can give you the darkest thoughts. The good news is that such scenarios are less likely to occur, yet not impossible.

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