What causes numbness in legs?

Leg numbness can affect both men and women for a large range of reasons. The MediFind Medical Team has summarized 10 potential causes for pelvic pain below in order from most to least likely based on our data. Learn more about how MediFind works here. You can also enter your symptoms into MediFind’s Symptom Checker to receive more customized results.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Leg numbness can occur from compression of blood vessels and nerves. When that compression persists, patients may also experience pain and swelling. This condition is best treated at home, through exercise and stretching but doctors can prescribe pain medicine to alleviate symptoms. In rare cases of vein compression, the condition may lead to a blood clot. A primary care doctor can ensure that the condition is not severe. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Spinal Cord Trauma

Damage to the spinal cord, either through an accident or by exercise can lead to chronic leg numbness. This can be evidence of a worsening condition. A neurologist would first assess damage to the spine before determining further treatment, which may involve surgery. Find a neurologist near you here.

Multiple Sclerosis

Along with numbness in other limbs, Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, can present with leg numbness as a condition. MS is a chronic autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the myelin sheath of nerve cells, which help transmit information throughout the body. This progresses over time as the nerves become unable to fire and lead to permanent nerve damage. As an autoimmune disorder, MS is likely genetic and presents as five types: RRMS, SPMS, PPMS, tumefactive, and pediatric. RRMS is the most common and the least serious. Although there are no treatments for MS, a neurologist can help manage symptoms as well as slow down progression. Find a neurologist near you here.

Herniated Disk

Each spinal bone is separated by disks that cushion and provide spacing for the vertebrae. Should one of those disks move out of place, or herniate, it can cause compression on the nerves, which would then lead to pain and possible numbness of the limbs. Leg numbness occurs when a disk in the lumbar area herniates and is the most common area for this to occur. Strenuous activity usually leads to herniated disks, especially in middle-aged or older men. A neurologist can prescribe pain medicine or relaxants to alleviate symptoms. Find a neurologist near you here.

Transient Ischemic Attack

A lack of blood flow to the brain for a brief amount of time presents as stroke-like symptoms to the patient. These transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, can cause leg numbness that lasts 1 to 2 hours. Although by themselves they are not dangerous, TIAs may be a sign of a true stroke happening in the future. This serious condition requires immediate medical attention in preparation for that future stroke. A primary care doctor can prescribe blood thinners or direct acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) to prevent future complications. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness of the limbs is one of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which involves pressure of the carpal muscles against the nerves along a thin opening in the wrist. Prolonged exposure to this condition weakens mobility of the hands and fingers and may lead to muscle damage. A neurologist would focus on alleviating the muscle inflammation to release that pressure by providing a wrist splint and prescribing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Find a neurologist near you here.

Compartment Syndrome

Our muscles have layers of tissue covering them called fascia, this tissue can also separate one muscle group from the other. Each layer of fascia is an open, confined space called a compartment and contains nerves and blood vessels. If there is swelling against the compartment, the nerves can be compressed, which may lead to leg numbness, and is called compartment syndrome. This usually occurs from inflamed muscles that became that way due to trauma or loss of blood supply. This serious condition can lead to permanent damage. An orthopedic surgeon must perform surgery to alleviate that pressure but the syndrome is generally diagnosed by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a common condition that affects many people and refers to a lack of healthy red blood cells. The cause of that anemia is generally the focus for doctors and may involve a lack of iron in the body or improper absorption of nutrition. In cases with leg numbness, a chronic B12 deficiency can lead to nerve damage if not properly treated. However, the normal symptoms of anemia are what present first, which involve fatigue, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath among others. A hematologist would focus on restoring proper B12 levels in the body. Find a hematologist near you here.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Where carpal tunnel syndrome refers to compression of the carpal nerve in the wrist, tarsal tunnel presents as compression of the tibial nerve in the leg. This can result in leg numbness, tingling, and weakness and eventually leads to muscle damage. Like carpal tunnel, swelling from injury or other sources of inflammation can result in the leg muscles pushing against the nerve. A neurologist would try to alleviate the muscle inflammation using NSAIDs. Find a neurologist near you here.


A migraine is a severe headache that presents with nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. The two main types of migraines are aural and non-aural, which themselves result in differences in symptomology. An aural migraine can lead to limb numbness in severe cases. There is no cure for a migraine and they generally end well before 72 hours but a neurologist can prescribe medicine to reduce the number of attacks. Find a neurologist near you here.

Understanding the Results

These results are based on the most likely conditions for a 20 to 40 year-old patient that is living in the United States. Our data shows that 96% of the time, this symptom is related to one of the 10 most likely causes. Location and age can also contribute to different results. Use our Symptom Checker to add your information and get your custom results.

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Differences in Age Groups

Leg numbness is a universal condition for children, adults, and elderly as it involves physical activity. The older the person, however, the more likely the body will react negatively to physical exertion. Therefore, older patients experience it more often.

Differences among Men and Women

There appears to be no difference among men and women concerning leg numbness. No disease specifically targets differences in the reproductive system and it is mostly focused on the nervous system.

Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Published By: MediFind Medical Staff