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What Can Cause Calf Numbness?

A healthcare provider examining a woman's calf.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
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Calf numbness can occur for a variety of reasons, and some of the causes of this type of condition may be quite serious. Restricted blood flow to the calf can lead to numbness, and the person may experience what is commonly known as a pins-and-needles feeling. As the blood recirculates through the limb, feeling will return. This is not a serious condition as long as sensation returns if pressure is released. Other causes of calf numbness may include exposure to extremely cold temperatures and damage to nerves that service that area of the body.

An injury to the legs or to the spine can lead to calf numbness. This is usually a sign that one or more nerves has been compressed or otherwise damaged, and while some instances of nerve compression are not serious, others may be. Prolonged numbness or calf numbness in both legs may be an indication of a serious problem that should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible. A herniated disc in the spine, for example, may be causing neurological problems throughout the legs, leading to leg numbness, and this will need to be remedied by physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, or in some instances, surgery.

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Sometimes infections or illnesses can lead to calf numbness as well. This is an indication that the illness is fairly serious, and the patient should seek a doctor's help immediately. Bacterial infections can lead to numbness in the calves as well as a host of other symptoms that may be painful or otherwise unpleasant, and some diseases such as multiple sclerosis can lead to calf numbness as well. If the numbness lasts more than a few minutes, or if it recurs often, it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Exposure to extreme cold can also lead to numbness throughout the body. Once the body has been warmed and blood flow has been restored, the numbness should subside; if it does not, more serious damage may have been incurred during the exposure to cold temperatures. Frostbite, for example, can lead to numbness caused by dying cells; the most serious cases of frostbite may need to be treated surgically to prevent infection. More minor occurrences of frostbite will only require some milder medical attention, though prolonged or permanent loss of sensation in a particular area of the body may be incurred.

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Discuss this Article

anon286144
Post 1

My foot is numb due to a surgeon's error removing a skin cancer on my lower calf. Now I have foot numbness and pins and needles type pain due to damage to my nerve. Everything was fine until my little skin cancer was removed on my leg. I have numbness on the foot only.

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