Many people feel a tingling sensation in their limbs from time to time, usually after they have stayed in the same position for long periods of time. We sometimes say “my leg fell asleep!” to describe the sensation.
However, tingling in the legs can be something more serious. Medically known as leg paresthesia, this tingling is caused by the way your brain reads the electrochemical impulses from your legs. Though the most common cause is the “falling asleep” phenomenon, it can also be caused by skin conditions, circulatory disorders, hereditary illnesses or even neurological disorders. This tingling can happen anywhere in the body, and it can be either constant or transient, meaning it comes and goes.
Causes of Tingling in Left Leg
In order to understand what is causing the problem, you should first evaluate how long the problem lasts and how often it occurs. This can be either transient or chronic.
Transient Tingling in Left Leg
When the pins and needles sensation comes and goes, it’s called transient, and this means it is likely of little concern. Transient tingling can happen whenever you put pressure on a nerve, which is common when you are in one position for too long. However, it can also be caused by dehydration, panic attacks or even whiplash. If you are prone to hyperventilating, or if you have a seizure or an ischemic attack, you might feel this tingling. Finally, it can be caused by temporary problems with blood circulation.
Constant Tingling in Left Leg
If you feel the tingling constantly, or if it comes and goes often, you are dealing with chronic paresthesia. Here are a few reasons why you might be experiencing chronic tingling in the left leg:
- Circulatory Problems. Problems with circulation can mean less blood to your legs, and that can mean tingling and a generally uncomfortable feeling. This might be especially common in the elderly or those who have been diagnosed with angina, atherosclerosis and the like.
- Skin Conditions and Infections. Skin conditions such as frostbite or burns can be painful, but they can also creating a tingling sensation as the blood moves through the area. Some infections, such as HIV or Lyme disease, can cause the problem as well.
- Hereditary Diseases. Three specific hereditary diseases, including Denny-Brown’s Syndrome, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or porphyria can each lead to tingling in the legs.
- Nutritional Factors. If you have abnormal levels of certain vitamins or minerals, you might feel tingling. This can stem from problems with B12, potassium, calcium or sodium.
- Peripheral Nervous Disorder. This is a common reason for tingling in the legs. This happens when the nerves that connect the brain and the spinal cord become damaged or otherwise deteriorate.
- Sciatica. This nerve pain is caused by a protruding or herniated disc in the back. It results in tingling and sometimes shooting pain down one side of the body, usually the left side.
- Peripheral Artery Disease. When plaque builds up in your arteries, it can diminish blood flow to your legs. When that happens, the tingling pain can start. This can feel very much like the pain you might experience after a back injury.
- Multiple Sclerosis. This disease of the nervous system attacks the myelin, or the substance that covers the nerves. When the nerves are exposed, scar tissue tries to cover them up. That scar tissue can then lead to tingling and problems with numbness. In serious cases, it can lead to paralysis.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. These two autoimmune diseases are known for leading to tingling sensations. In fact, over one million people suffer from lower leg tingling due to these problems.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t just happen in the hands or wrists – it also affects your lower legs. This can often be caused by strokes, seizures, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, underactive thyroid and more.
- Muscle Cramp. Sometimes a simple muscle cramp can leave behind ghost pain, including a tingling sensation in your leg. These cramps are caused by certain medications, too much exercise, some sort of injury or not getting enough of the right minerals or vitamins.
- Leg Injury. A strain, stretched muscle, stress fracture and other similar injuries can mess with the nerves and circulation in your legs, and that can lead to a tingling sensation. This is often felt when walking or otherwise moving the leg.
- Others. There are other potential causes as well, such as infections of the soft tissue of the legs or feet, deep vein thrombosis or other blood clots, gout or arthritis, varicose veins in the leg, or nerve damage caused by disease or injury.
Treatment for Tingling in Left Leg
In most cases, numbness or tingling in the leg will go away on its own within a short period of time. You can usually pinpoint the reasons why, such as sleeping in the same position for several hours. Problems that linger can be treated by getting to the cause of the problem. For instance, if you are taking medications that can cause tingling, changing your medicine might help. If you are dealing with a disease or infection, your doctor might prescribe medications that can alleviate the tingling. Low levels of vitamins or minerals can be corrected with diet, and problems like diabetes can be handled with a multi-pronged approach.
When to See a Doctor
If the tingling has no clear cause and doesn’t go away, it’s time to speak to a doctor. Look for symptoms such as dizziness, muscle spasms, a rash, pain in other parts of your body, frequent urination or tingling that get worse. If you have these problems, get to see a doctor very soon.
If you are experiencing other problems in addition to the tingling, such as slurred speech, difficulty walking, an inability to move, lack of coordination, changes in vision, confusion, weakness, or lessened control over your movements, get to the emergency room. If your tingling is the result of an injury, that is also a good reason to get immediate medical care.