Causes of Numbness, Weakness and Tingling in legs

Nerve Damage Symptoms and How to Know What They Are

Discover what the major causes of numbness and other neurological symptoms like tingling legs and weakness are. These include diabetic neuropathic pain, sciatic nerve pain and other less common causes of nerve inflammation. The key to understanding symptoms like these is to know a little about nerves and how they work. 

  1. Nerves carry signals from the brain out to all areas of the body via the spinal cord and return information back.

  2. The brain is 'mission control' headquarters and it samples all the information it receives and adjusts and makes constant amendments to keep you and your body balanced (homeostasis in biological terms) and safe from harm.


There are many different types of nerve fibres but they can be broadly split into three main types:

  • Sensory nerves – transmit information back to the brain (sensation)
  • Motor nerves – transmit actions from the brain to the muscles (movement)
  • Autonomic nerves- control vital body functions such as sweating, heart rate etc

Causes of Numbness and weakness in the legs

When a nerve cell is interfered with due to any cause such as compression or nerve inflammation (sciatic nerve pain is an example of this) or trauma or general illnesses (like diabetes) the symptoms of nerve damage or  impairment depend on the type of nerve fibre that is affected.

  • A sensory nerve problem is one of the primary reasons for numbness and tingling (pins and needles), or basically anything that changes the way an area feels
  • A motor nerve problem will cause weakness and loss of control

Symptoms of numbness, weakness and tingling are causes by interference with either a sensory or motor nerve. The next pages in this section go into more detail about some of the most common causes of  these nerve symptoms so you can check to see if any of them feel familiar to you.

deramtome chart
Find out more about numbness and tingling in the legs and feet and how to spot the the symptoms of sciatica.

peripheral neuropathy image


There are several different types and causes of peripheral neuropathy. Many of them lead to numbness, tingling and pain in the legs feet or toes.
meralgia paresthetica
Compression of the the Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve can cause a tricky problem called meralgia paresthetica ( called paraesthetica in the UK). This little known problem causes leg pain and numbness in the thigh, usually in a defined oval patch.
vertebra Symptoms in the legs and feet can be caused by problems at the neck. Cervical myelopathy is a type of spinal cord compression caused by a narrowing or stenosis of the cervical spinal canal.
lumbar spinal stenosis X-Ray

Lumbar spinal stenosis causes diffuse symptoms of pain, numbness and tingling in the feet and legs.


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This is a nice short video that explains more about nerves:


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July 29, 2017




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