How to Stop Numbness in Legs & Feet: Proven Solutions & Tips

Table of contents

How to Stop Numbness in Legs & Feet: Proven Solutions & Tips

Numbness in the legs and feet can often be confusing because there are a range of causes. It could just be that you are stationary for too long in one position but it could also be an indication of an underlying medical condition.

In this article, we will explain what causes numbness in the legs and feet how to treat these sensations at home, and offer long-term solutions to managing them. We'll also explore how to treat numbness in your legs and feet specifically for those with fibromyalgia.

What causes numbness in the legs & feet?

When you feel numbness in your legs, it can be a bit scary. Medically known as paresthesia, this sensation often happens when your nerves are injured.

If you sit in one position for too long or if your nerves are pinched, you might temporarily lose feeling in your legs. But if the numbness is prolonged, it could mean there's a bigger health issue. Prolonged numbness may be caused by the following conditions:

  • multiple sclerosis – a chronic condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, leading to a wide range of potential symptoms, including numbness
  • peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs, often causing numbness in the feet
  • tarsal tunnel syndrome – a compression neuropathy and painful foot condition in which the tibial nerve is compressed as it travels through the tarsal tunnel
  • fibromyalgia – a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, and sometimes numbness and tingling in various parts of the body
  • lupus – an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body, including the nerves, potentially leading to numbness
  • diabetes – a condition affecting your body’s ability to produce or use insulin, which can lead to neuropathy or numbness in the extremities due to high blood sugar levels
  • nerve damage – physical damage that can result from a variety of causes including injuries, infections, and exposure to toxins, often leading to numbness as a symptom.

What is the most common cause of leg numbness?

The most common cause of leg numbness is sitting on one leg or in one position for too long, which compresses the nerves. This may cause you to be unable to walk temporarily. Naturally, as time passes, you will begin to feel sensations again and gain the ability to walk again.

Leg numbness caused by fibromyalgia typically causes a pins-and-needles sensation or a burning feeling, rather than complete numbness that would significantly impair walking. So it's less likely to lead to major problems with walking compared to some other causes of leg numbness such as diabetic neuropathy.

Remedies for numbness that you can do at home

When you start to notice that tingling feeling creeping into your legs and feet, it's time to take swift action to stop the discomfort. Some things you can do at home to stop the numbness include:

  • rest
  • change your position
  • stretch – particularly stretching exercises for your legs and feet to promote circulation
  • go for a quick walk – like stretching, a brisk walk can do wonders for getting your blood flowing again
  • elevate your legs
  • apply heat, such as by using a warm compress
  • massage areas of discomfort
  • take a salt bath – immersing your feet in a solution of Epsom salt could provide symptomatic relief because Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, a mineral known for its circulation-boosting properties1
  • use braces – this can help take some pressure off the nerves in your legs.

Elevation & movement

Raising the legs can improve blood flow and diminish the sensation of numbness by assisting the blood in its journey back to the heart, counteracting the effects of gravity.

Keep a gentle bend in the knees to prevent the compression of veins and arteries, which is essential for maintaining unobstructed blood flow.

Incorporating regular activities such as walking or doing calf-stretching exercises, along with elevating your legs, can significantly enhance the benefits of circulation and help to alleviate leg discomfort.

Warm compress

Placing a warm, moist towel on the area experiencing numbness can stimulate circulation, potentially reducing the numb sensation more quickly. If you use heat packs or other sources of direct heat, place a layer, such as a towel, between your skin and the heat source to prevent burns. Limit the application to 20-minute intervals to aid in the restoration of sensation.

Don't use heat on areas that are in pain or swollen, unless directed by a healthcare professional.

Massage techniques

Massage can help reduce the discomfort of numbness by promoting nerve activity and improving blood circulation. These techniques aim to enhance nerve communication and blood flow, which can help alleviate the numb sensation and prevent blood flow restriction.

  1. Begin the massage by softly stretching and pressing various parts of the foot to ready the muscles and nerves for more intensive techniques.
  2. Continue by applying firmer pressure using your knuckles or fists to deeply massage the sole of the foot.
  3. Use your thumbs to execute long strokes down the length of the foot.

Never push to the point of pain. Always keep the pressure at a level that's comfortable and avoid using too much force. Sensitive areas should receive sustained attention before ending with lighter strokes that decrease in pressure gradually.

Managing numbness in the long run

Implementing long-term strategies is vital in the management of leg numbness. Some conditions like multiple sclerosis may lead to sensations of numbness paired with tingling, burning tickling, and itching symptoms that can go away on their own2.

Blood sugar management

If you live with diabetes, always maintain your blood sugar levels within the recommended guidelines. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar can lead to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy3, which is often marked by a range of sensations from tingling and pain to increased sensitivity, particularly in the feet or hands, typically initiating in the feet.

Regular monitoring and active management of your blood sugar can play a significant role in either preventing or decelerating the nerve damage that manifests as numbness. When blood sugar remains unchecked, it can lead to a gradual onset of nerve damage, which may result in a diminished sensation in extremities such as your feet and hands4.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy plays a critical role for individuals experiencing peripheral neuropathy and other conditions affecting nerves by facilitating the restoration of nerve functions. Core to physical therapy are exercises aimed at strengthening muscles that may have become weak due to nerve damage.

For those experiencing weakness or numbness in their legs, targeted exercises can be particularly beneficial. These exercises help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. It is crucial for patients with neuropathy to engage in exercises that are tailored to preserve muscle flexibility and prevent muscle rigidity.

Alternative therapies for nerve health

Exploring alternative therapies such as acupuncture and biofeedback can offer fresh perspectives on managing nerve health, particularly with sciatic nerve issues.

Acupuncture, a practice that includes gently inserting needles into specific points on the body, may help ease nerve discomfort by triggering the body's natural painkillers, endorphins, and could enhance circulation and nerve regeneration5.

Biofeedback, on the other hand, is a method where patients learn to control certain physiological processes, such as the level of muscle tension and their perception of pain, which may be advantageous for maintaining nerve health6. This technique uses sensors that offer immediate feedback, enabling the user to master relaxation methods that can modify how their body reacts to the pain or stress that often accompanies nerve-related issues.

How to stop fibromyalgia-related numbness in legs & feet

The numbness that often accompanies fibromyalgia can be addressed with a comprehensive strategy that includes pain response retraining, stress management techniques, medications, and physical therapy.

Retraining your pain response

Retraining your pain response is about identifying and comprehending the triggers of pain, which can range from environmental stressors to deeply rooted patterns of thought and behavior.

By harnessing the power of neuroplasticity – the brain's incredible ability to forge new neural pathways – you have the potential to reshape your brain's reaction to these triggers of pain.

Stress management

Stress, while a common element of life, can significantly exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, often amplifying the discomfort felt throughout the body. Though it may be impossible to completely eradicate stress, learning to adeptly navigate and control stress is an achievable goal.

Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, and a variety of relaxation methods can be instrumental in mitigating the physical effects of stress.

Building a robust support network, whether through friends, therapists, or a supportive community, is essential for individuals with fibromyalgia, providing comfort and emotional backing during periods of heightened stress.

Medication strategies

Medication is just one part of a broader approach to pain management and should be used in conjunction with other pain control strategies that include educational, lifestyle, and psychological support.

For those battling fibromyalgia, common medicinal treatments encompass:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and naproxen
  • antidepressants like sertraline and fluoxetine
  • pain-specific medications such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anticonvulsants, which are also effective in treating nerve pain, including topiramate and carbamazepine.

Exercise

Regular participation in both cardiovascular and resistance exercises is essential for managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. But don't be put off! It doesn't have to be formal exercise, sweating it out in a gym. Engaging in any form of movement or physical activity that you enjoy can be hugely beneficial. Do you enjoy walking in nature? Swimming? Or another active hobby?

Bringing a little bit of movement into each day not only reduces pain intensity but also combats symptoms of depression and anxiety, and can promote better sleep too. This offers a holistic approach to pain relief that simultaneously boosts mood and overall energy levels.

When to consult a healthcare professional

It's essential to distinguish when numbness in your legs and feet can be safely addressed at home versus when it's time to seek medical care. Urgent medical attention is warranted if numbness is accompanied by symptoms that could signal a stroke, which include:

  • sudden muscle weakness or paralysis
  • abrupt onset of confusion
  • difficulties with speech
  • sensations of dizziness or the room spinning
  • intense, sudden headaches
  • unexpected loss of bladder or bowel control.

These symptoms are particularly urgent if they follow a recent injury to the head, neck, or back.

It's equally important to see a healthcare provider if numbness or tingling comes with other alarming symptoms, such as:

  • vision changes
  • severe pain
  • neck stiffness
  • pain radiating down your arm to your fingers.

Be vigilant for other symptoms such as muscle weakness, skin rashes, continuous dizziness, or muscle spasms. If you experience persistent or intermittent numbness that doesn’t appear to be related to nerve compression (like when a limb "falls asleep"), it's wise to consult with a healthcare professional.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we adopt an integrated multidisciplinary strategy specifically designed to aid in your fibromyalgia management. Knowing how much fibromyalgia can change your life, we've put together different ways to help you out. We give you educational resources and self-management techniques to help you learn about fibromyalgia and how to handle the pain and tiredness it brings.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.

  1. Schutten, J. C., Joris, P. J., Groendijk, I., Eelderink, C., Groothof, D., Van Der Veen, Y., Westerhuis, R., Goorman, F., Danel, R. M., De Borst, M. H., & Bakker, S. J. L. (2022). Effects of magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium sulfate supplementation on arterial stiffness: a randomized, Double‐Blind, Placebo‐Controlled intervention trial. Journal of the American Heart Association, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1161/jaha.121.021783
  2. Freiha J, Riachi N, Chalah MA, Zoghaib R, Ayache SS, Ahdab R. Paroxysmal Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis-A Review of the Literature. J Clin Med. 2020 Sep 25;9(10):3100. doi: 10.3390/jcm9103100. PMID: 32992918; PMCID: PMC7600828. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7600828/
  3. Bodman MA, Varacallo M. Peripheral Diabetic Neuropathy. [Updated 2023 Sep 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK442009/
  4. Diabetes and nerve damage. (2022, June 20). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-nerve-damage.html
  5. Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):164-179. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0155. Epub 2017 Jan 23. PMID: 28112552; PMCID: PMC5359694. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359694/
  6. Mansor M, Shan Lee Z, San LP, Mei Ng M, Al-Abd N, Kassim M. Inhibitory effects of biofeedback electrostimulation therapy on pain and cortisol levels in chronic neuropathic pain: A randomized-controlled trial. Turk J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Mar 4;67(1):62-68. doi: 10.5606/tftrd.2021.4672. PMID: 33948545; PMCID: PMC8088792. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8088792/

How to Stop Numbness in Legs & Feet: Proven Solutions & Tips

Table of contents

How to Stop Numbness in Legs & Feet: Proven Solutions & Tips

Numbness in the legs and feet can often be confusing because there are a range of causes. It could just be that you are stationary for too long in one position but it could also be an indication of an underlying medical condition.

In this article, we will explain what causes numbness in the legs and feet how to treat these sensations at home, and offer long-term solutions to managing them. We'll also explore how to treat numbness in your legs and feet specifically for those with fibromyalgia.

What causes numbness in the legs & feet?

When you feel numbness in your legs, it can be a bit scary. Medically known as paresthesia, this sensation often happens when your nerves are injured.

If you sit in one position for too long or if your nerves are pinched, you might temporarily lose feeling in your legs. But if the numbness is prolonged, it could mean there's a bigger health issue. Prolonged numbness may be caused by the following conditions:

  • multiple sclerosis – a chronic condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, leading to a wide range of potential symptoms, including numbness
  • peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs, often causing numbness in the feet
  • tarsal tunnel syndrome – a compression neuropathy and painful foot condition in which the tibial nerve is compressed as it travels through the tarsal tunnel
  • fibromyalgia – a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, and sometimes numbness and tingling in various parts of the body
  • lupus – an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body, including the nerves, potentially leading to numbness
  • diabetes – a condition affecting your body’s ability to produce or use insulin, which can lead to neuropathy or numbness in the extremities due to high blood sugar levels
  • nerve damage – physical damage that can result from a variety of causes including injuries, infections, and exposure to toxins, often leading to numbness as a symptom.

What is the most common cause of leg numbness?

The most common cause of leg numbness is sitting on one leg or in one position for too long, which compresses the nerves. This may cause you to be unable to walk temporarily. Naturally, as time passes, you will begin to feel sensations again and gain the ability to walk again.

Leg numbness caused by fibromyalgia typically causes a pins-and-needles sensation or a burning feeling, rather than complete numbness that would significantly impair walking. So it's less likely to lead to major problems with walking compared to some other causes of leg numbness such as diabetic neuropathy.

Remedies for numbness that you can do at home

When you start to notice that tingling feeling creeping into your legs and feet, it's time to take swift action to stop the discomfort. Some things you can do at home to stop the numbness include:

  • rest
  • change your position
  • stretch – particularly stretching exercises for your legs and feet to promote circulation
  • go for a quick walk – like stretching, a brisk walk can do wonders for getting your blood flowing again
  • elevate your legs
  • apply heat, such as by using a warm compress
  • massage areas of discomfort
  • take a salt bath – immersing your feet in a solution of Epsom salt could provide symptomatic relief because Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, a mineral known for its circulation-boosting properties1
  • use braces – this can help take some pressure off the nerves in your legs.

Elevation & movement

Raising the legs can improve blood flow and diminish the sensation of numbness by assisting the blood in its journey back to the heart, counteracting the effects of gravity.

Keep a gentle bend in the knees to prevent the compression of veins and arteries, which is essential for maintaining unobstructed blood flow.

Incorporating regular activities such as walking or doing calf-stretching exercises, along with elevating your legs, can significantly enhance the benefits of circulation and help to alleviate leg discomfort.

Warm compress

Placing a warm, moist towel on the area experiencing numbness can stimulate circulation, potentially reducing the numb sensation more quickly. If you use heat packs or other sources of direct heat, place a layer, such as a towel, between your skin and the heat source to prevent burns. Limit the application to 20-minute intervals to aid in the restoration of sensation.

Don't use heat on areas that are in pain or swollen, unless directed by a healthcare professional.

Massage techniques

Massage can help reduce the discomfort of numbness by promoting nerve activity and improving blood circulation. These techniques aim to enhance nerve communication and blood flow, which can help alleviate the numb sensation and prevent blood flow restriction.

  1. Begin the massage by softly stretching and pressing various parts of the foot to ready the muscles and nerves for more intensive techniques.
  2. Continue by applying firmer pressure using your knuckles or fists to deeply massage the sole of the foot.
  3. Use your thumbs to execute long strokes down the length of the foot.

Never push to the point of pain. Always keep the pressure at a level that's comfortable and avoid using too much force. Sensitive areas should receive sustained attention before ending with lighter strokes that decrease in pressure gradually.

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Managing numbness in the long run

Implementing long-term strategies is vital in the management of leg numbness. Some conditions like multiple sclerosis may lead to sensations of numbness paired with tingling, burning tickling, and itching symptoms that can go away on their own2.

Blood sugar management

If you live with diabetes, always maintain your blood sugar levels within the recommended guidelines. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar can lead to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy3, which is often marked by a range of sensations from tingling and pain to increased sensitivity, particularly in the feet or hands, typically initiating in the feet.

Regular monitoring and active management of your blood sugar can play a significant role in either preventing or decelerating the nerve damage that manifests as numbness. When blood sugar remains unchecked, it can lead to a gradual onset of nerve damage, which may result in a diminished sensation in extremities such as your feet and hands4.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy plays a critical role for individuals experiencing peripheral neuropathy and other conditions affecting nerves by facilitating the restoration of nerve functions. Core to physical therapy are exercises aimed at strengthening muscles that may have become weak due to nerve damage.

For those experiencing weakness or numbness in their legs, targeted exercises can be particularly beneficial. These exercises help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. It is crucial for patients with neuropathy to engage in exercises that are tailored to preserve muscle flexibility and prevent muscle rigidity.

Alternative therapies for nerve health

Exploring alternative therapies such as acupuncture and biofeedback can offer fresh perspectives on managing nerve health, particularly with sciatic nerve issues.

Acupuncture, a practice that includes gently inserting needles into specific points on the body, may help ease nerve discomfort by triggering the body's natural painkillers, endorphins, and could enhance circulation and nerve regeneration5.

Biofeedback, on the other hand, is a method where patients learn to control certain physiological processes, such as the level of muscle tension and their perception of pain, which may be advantageous for maintaining nerve health6. This technique uses sensors that offer immediate feedback, enabling the user to master relaxation methods that can modify how their body reacts to the pain or stress that often accompanies nerve-related issues.

How to stop fibromyalgia-related numbness in legs & feet

The numbness that often accompanies fibromyalgia can be addressed with a comprehensive strategy that includes pain response retraining, stress management techniques, medications, and physical therapy.

Retraining your pain response

Retraining your pain response is about identifying and comprehending the triggers of pain, which can range from environmental stressors to deeply rooted patterns of thought and behavior.

By harnessing the power of neuroplasticity – the brain's incredible ability to forge new neural pathways – you have the potential to reshape your brain's reaction to these triggers of pain.

Stress management

Stress, while a common element of life, can significantly exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, often amplifying the discomfort felt throughout the body. Though it may be impossible to completely eradicate stress, learning to adeptly navigate and control stress is an achievable goal.

Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, and a variety of relaxation methods can be instrumental in mitigating the physical effects of stress.

Building a robust support network, whether through friends, therapists, or a supportive community, is essential for individuals with fibromyalgia, providing comfort and emotional backing during periods of heightened stress.

Medication strategies

Medication is just one part of a broader approach to pain management and should be used in conjunction with other pain control strategies that include educational, lifestyle, and psychological support.

For those battling fibromyalgia, common medicinal treatments encompass:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and naproxen
  • antidepressants like sertraline and fluoxetine
  • pain-specific medications such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anticonvulsants, which are also effective in treating nerve pain, including topiramate and carbamazepine.

Exercise

Regular participation in both cardiovascular and resistance exercises is essential for managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. But don't be put off! It doesn't have to be formal exercise, sweating it out in a gym. Engaging in any form of movement or physical activity that you enjoy can be hugely beneficial. Do you enjoy walking in nature? Swimming? Or another active hobby?

Bringing a little bit of movement into each day not only reduces pain intensity but also combats symptoms of depression and anxiety, and can promote better sleep too. This offers a holistic approach to pain relief that simultaneously boosts mood and overall energy levels.

When to consult a healthcare professional

It's essential to distinguish when numbness in your legs and feet can be safely addressed at home versus when it's time to seek medical care. Urgent medical attention is warranted if numbness is accompanied by symptoms that could signal a stroke, which include:

  • sudden muscle weakness or paralysis
  • abrupt onset of confusion
  • difficulties with speech
  • sensations of dizziness or the room spinning
  • intense, sudden headaches
  • unexpected loss of bladder or bowel control.

These symptoms are particularly urgent if they follow a recent injury to the head, neck, or back.

It's equally important to see a healthcare provider if numbness or tingling comes with other alarming symptoms, such as:

  • vision changes
  • severe pain
  • neck stiffness
  • pain radiating down your arm to your fingers.

Be vigilant for other symptoms such as muscle weakness, skin rashes, continuous dizziness, or muscle spasms. If you experience persistent or intermittent numbness that doesn’t appear to be related to nerve compression (like when a limb "falls asleep"), it's wise to consult with a healthcare professional.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we adopt an integrated multidisciplinary strategy specifically designed to aid in your fibromyalgia management. Knowing how much fibromyalgia can change your life, we've put together different ways to help you out. We give you educational resources and self-management techniques to help you learn about fibromyalgia and how to handle the pain and tiredness it brings.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.