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Arm and Leg Numbness or Tingling

Everyone has probably had the sensations of numbness and tingling in their arms and legs at some point. When we sit for too long, have our legs or arms crossed a certain way for a while, whack our elbow or knee on a wall, or otherwise have that feeling of limbs being “asleep”, it is definitely annoying, though not generally cause for concern. Sometimes, however, numbness or tingling in the limbs can be the result of more serious causes, such as neuropathy, sciatica, or an injury. If you are feeling these sensations often or chronically, there may be ways that Advance Health and Wellness can help.

Many different conditions or injuries could be the cause of your individual numbness and tingling. Some of them are:

Peripheral Neuropathies

Neuropathies are injuries to the peripheral nerves that transport messages to and from the brain and spinal cord. When these nerves are damaged, the messages may not reach their destination, much like when phone or powerlines are cut. “Short circuits” or inappropriate messages can also result, causing numbing or tingling in the arms, legs, or extremities. Diabetes can cause disease-specific neuropathy, and can result in similar symptoms.


Certain types of disorders can cause arm and leg numbness and tingling. Circulation, brain, and spinal disorders are a few examples. Some spinal injuries that cause these symptoms include injuries of the cervical spine, the thoracic or mid level, and lumbar or lower/sacral area. Though rare, spinal tumors and cysts can also cause numbness and tingling, as well as pain or paralysis, depending on their location. Symptoms come on gradually or appear suddenly.

Circulation disorders such as peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of arteries due to their calcification); Buerger’s disease (caused by heaving smoking and usually affecting males between the ages of 20 and 40); polyarteritis nodosa, (a kind of vasculitis); and chronic necrotizing vasculitis, (which affects the arterial walls), can also trigger numbness in the arms, legs, hands, and feet.

Spinal and brain disorders like Multiple Sclerosis or strokes are generally accompanied by both numbness and tingling, and should be diagnosed as soon as possible to begin treatment, and/or prevent unnecessary long term damage.

Other spine disorders, affecting either the cord or the column, can also result in numbness in the arms and legs. Some examples are: syringomyelia, when there are one or more cysts in the spine; spinal arachnoid cysts, which develop around the spinal column; injuries to the spinal cord; and tumors on the spine, which are very rare. All of these have similar symptoms. In addition to numbness and tingling, you may experience symmetric or asymmetric paralysis from more severe cases.

There are many different reasons you could be experiencing sensations of numbness and tingling in your arms or legs. Many of them may not require immediate diagnosis or treatment, but could definitely benefit from a consultation to ascertain the cause and treat the symptoms. The more severe and dangerous causes, however, should be treated as soon as possible.