What is leg paresthesia?

Leg paresthesia is a sensation of tingling (feeling of “pins and needles”) or burning in the leg that occurs without stimulation. It can result from a previous leg injury or pressure on a nerve in the leg. Other causes include damage to nerves in the leg from exposure to extreme heat or cold or to toxic compounds.

Paresthesia might also result from a circulation problem that impairs blood flow to the legs, a leg injury, or intense exercise. Another possible cause of leg paresthesia is meralgia paresthetica, which is pain in the outer thigh due to compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, one of the main nerves within the thigh. Chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, can also cause the sensation of leg paresthesia. Anticancer chemotherapy and some antibiotics can also cause paresthesia.

Alternatively, leg paresthesia may be caused by peripheral neuropathy, a disorder in which the peripheral nerves that relay signals between the body and the brain and spinal cord lose function. Peripheral neuropathy can be due to a number of specific diseases and disorders, including alcoholism, diabetes, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune nerve disorder. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy has no known cause.

The duration and course of leg paresthesia can vary widely, depending on the underlying condition. Leg paresthesia caused by stroke or injury often has a sudden onset, while leg paresthesia resulting from peripheral neuropathy develops slowly and persists or worsens over time.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if a sudden leg paresthesia is accompanied by numbness or weakness on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or the worst headache of your life, as these can be signs of stroke.

If your leg paresthesia is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with leg paresthesia?

Leg paresthesia may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the leg also involve other body systems.

Leg symptoms that may occur along with leg paresthesia

Leg paresthesia may accompany other symptoms affecting the leg including:


What causes leg paresthesia?

Leg paresthesia can be the result of skin damage in the leg and surrounding tissues. For example, exposure to toxic chemicals, extreme heat, or extreme cold can damage the nerves in the skin, leading to a feeling of tingling and burning in the leg.

Damage to the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy) can also cause leg paresthesia. Peripheral neuropathy may be due to specific d... Read more about leg paresthesiacauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves