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What Causes Tingling in the Legs?

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  • Written By: Bethney Foster
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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Tingling in the legs, also called leg paresthesia, is caused by the way in which the brain interprets electrochemical impulses coming from this part of the body. The brain's strange reading of these signals may be caused by nothing more serious than that the leg has fallen asleep, although there are some far more serious causes. Various neurological and circulatory disorders, skin conditions, and hereditary illnesses can be at the root of this sensation.

Sometimes described as a pins-and-needles sensation, tingling in any part of the body can be a transient or chronic condition. Transient paresthesia is usually not a reason for concern, and it is most often experienced after a person put pressure on the body part, squeezing the nerve pathways. Commonly referred to as the area "falling asleep," the medical term for the condition is obdormition.

Transient tingling in the legs, which will last for a few seconds but not more than several minutes, may occur as a symptom of a panic attack, whiplash, or dehydration. Other conditions that can cause the sensation are hyperventilation, transient ischemic attacks, and seizures. Insufficient blood supply in the legs can also cause this problem.

Tingling that doesn’t go away after several minutes or that recurs often is referred to as chronic paresthesia. Causes can vary from fibromyalgia to an immune deficiency disorder, and it can also be a symptom of a neurological, heart, or hormone condition.

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In determining the cause of chronic paresthesia, neurological testing may be ordered. Stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, or meningitis could be possible causes. Injuries from repetitive motion may also be to blame, along with tarsal tunnel syndrome or sciatica.

Leg paresthesia is a common symptom in elderly patients, and it is likely the result of poor circulation, which may be a sign of circulatory problems. Angina, atherosclerosis, and other circulatory disorders may have tingling as a symptom.

Skin conditions such as burns or frostbite can create a sensation of tingling legs as well. Chronic paresthesia can be caused be various infections, such as HIV or Lyme disease, or it can be a symptom of diabetes. Some psychiatric diseases and medications can also cause the sensation, as can alcoholism.

There are hereditary diseases that can also cause tingling in the legs. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease affects the leg muscles, and Denny-Brown’s syndrome affects the nerve root. Porphyria, a group of inherited disorders, will also produce the symptom.

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candyquilt
Post 3

I get tingling and numbness in my left leg sometimes because of a herniated disc in my back. Sometimes, when I do a wrong movement or lift something heavy, the hernia puts pressure on the nerves there and since it's the same nerves traveling down the legs, I have these symptoms.

If my back is okay, I don't experience this.

ysmina
Post 2

@ddljohn-- Diabetes runs in my family so I know that diabetes causes damage in the circulatory system. This can lead to symptoms like burning, pain and tingling sensations in legs and feet.

But you said that you were diagnosed a few years ago. These types of symptoms usually show up after many years of diabetes (such as 20 years) or it may show up sooner if the diabetes was not controlled with insulin and medications.

So if you truly developed diabetes only a few years ago and if you have kept it under control since then, it seems unlikely that diabetes would be the cause of the tingling. But I'm not a doctor, so please discuss this with your family doctor to make sure.

Also check your blood sugar frequently to make sure that it's not high.

ddljohn
Post 1

I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. Recently, I've started experiencing tingling in my legs and feet at night. I know that this is a sign of diabetes but why am I having it now?

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