Causes of numbness of the legs when stooping

What is numbness in the leg?

A numbness describes one reduced feeling. In clinical terms, this phenomenon is called hypesthesia. The normal sensation that occurs when the leg is touched, such as when stroking, doesn't feel as strong as before. Some people describe this numbness as if the leg in cotton wool be packed. If this numbness is very pronounced, it may also be that the feeling is no longer there when you touch it.

Numbness in the leg can occur on one or both sides, the whole leg can be affected or only certain areas of the leg. Some people have experienced such numbness in the leg from situations where the leg fell asleep.

Also read the article on the topic:Numbness in the foot


A numbness in the leg usually occurs after one Damage, irritation, or narrowing of a nerve or Damage to a nerve tract that supplies the area of ​​the leg or parts of the leg. Such damage can result from a herniated disc in the lumbar spine or from irritation of the sciatic nerve. In addition, numbness can occur due to narrowing of a certain nerve that runs under the inguinal ligament or as a result of multiple sclerosis. Other causes for a decreased feeling in the leg can also be a polyneuropathy or, if it occurs very suddenly, a stroke can also be responsible. There are many other causes of leg numbness as well.

Herniated disc of the lumbar spine as a cause of numbness in the leg

A herniated disc of the lumbar spine is an event that occurs as a result of a Incorrect load in the lumbar spine can occur. The intervertebral disc, which is located between two vertebral bodies, is damaged and material can escape from the interior of the intervertebral disc. This material can leak in the direction of the spinal canal in which the spinal cord runs. This can narrow or damage the spinal cord or a nerve root at this location.

In the lumbar spine (lumbar spine for short), nerves in particular run that supply the legs, but also the bladder and rectum. Depending on which nerve root the herniated disc affects, can different areas in the leg to be affected. The L3 nerve root supplies a sensitive area that runs on the thigh from above / outside to the inner area of ​​the knee. The nerve root L4 sensitively supplies an area that runs from the outer edge of the knee over the front of the shin to approximately the inner malleolus. The outside of the lower leg, pulling diagonally up to the big toe, is sensitively supplied by the L5 nerve root. The area of ​​the nerve root S1 supplies an area that runs on the back of the leg on the outer edge to the sole and outer area of ​​the foot.

But not only numbness can occur with a herniated disc. Depending on the area and severity of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, symptoms such as paralysis, altered sensation, reduced pain, disturbances in urination and defecation and failure or reduction of reflexes can occur.

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Sciatica irritation as a cause of numbness in the leg

The sciatica is a large nerve (medical: nervus ischiadicus) that runs in the buttocks and the back of the thigh until it divides into other nerves in the knee area (nervus fibularis communis and nervus tibialis). Are the main symptom of sciatica irritation or entrapment mostly pain in the course of the sciatic nerve and also its branches. These run on the back of the thigh, lower leg and foot. But there can also be numbness in the area of ​​the nerve supply area or Back pain occur. Irritation of the sciatica can have different causes, e.g. it can occur as a result of a herniated disc, after operations in areas where the nerve runs or after inflammation.

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Meralgia paraesthtica as a cause of numbness in the leg

This term denotes the symptoms that are caused by Constriction of a nerve arise in the leg. This nerve supplies sensitive the outside of the thigh and is called in the technical language Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. The nerve passes through a natural constriction in the body, an area below the inguinal ligament. If the nerve is also constricted by tight pants, overweight or pregnancy, symptoms such as pain and abnormal sensations, which can also include numbness, can arise. The pain is usually relieved by flexing the hip joint.

You can find more information in our topic:Meralgia Paresthetica

MS as a cause of numbness in the leg

MS is short for multiple sclerosis. This is a chronic disease of the nervous system that causes the nerve sheaths to break down and thus become one in the long run Loss of function of these nerves. Symptoms may include numbness in the leg, though Nerve tracts that supply the leg with sensitivity are affected. However, other symptoms of MS may occur (such as paralysis or visual disturbances). The diagnosis of such a serious illness can only be made by a doctor in the neurology department.

Further information on this topic can be found at:Diagnosing MS

Numbness in the leg after a disc surgery

An operation for a herniated disc is usually only performed if there is a very pronounced herniated disc, e.g. if there are bladder and bowel disorders or severe paralysis has occurred. With operations there are always potential complications that can arise. An operation on a herniated disc in the lumbar spine is performed very close to the spinal canal. Thus, after such an operation (the indication of which is carefully weighed), among other things Nerve root irritation occur. Such irritation can be accompanied by pain or discomfort such as numbness. In the case of upcoming operations, you will usually be informed in detail about the process and possible complications. If you have any concerns, you can also ask the treating doctors questions at any time.

You might also be interested in this topic:Risks of intervertebral disc surgery

Can that also be a thrombosis?

A thrombosis in the leg, medically called deep vein thrombosis, can have very different symptoms or none at all. When symptoms occur, they often take the form of Redness, swelling, or warmth and pain in the affected leg. Exactly where these symptoms appear on the leg depends on which section of the leg the thrombosis is located. Numbness in the leg after a thrombosis is rarely described.

Also read our topic:Recognize a thrombosis


For the diagnosis of the underlying disease for the numbness in the leg, the doctor will first contact you detailed conversation with you (anamnesis). For that you should use the Area, course and accompanying symptoms be able to describe well and also e.g. yours Previous illnesses and medication taken know. This is usually followed by a physical exam and possibly a blood sample. If the doctor has any suspicions, further diagnostics will be initiated. This can be in the form of imaging (such as an MRI of the lumbar spine) or a measurement of the nerve conduction velocity in an electroneurography.

Which doctor treats this?

If you feel numb, your family doctor will likely contact you Neurologist transfer. Depending on the cause (e.g. after a herniated disc), a Orthopedist take over the treatment.

Other accompanying symptoms

Symptoms that are often associated with numbness in the leg Paresthesia like tingling or burning, Pain in the leg or back or paralysis. Other accompanying symptoms can include incontinence of the bladder or bowel, numbness in other areas of the body, visual disturbances or decreased reflexes. The accompanying symptoms always depend on the underlying disease.

Back pain when you feel numb in your leg

Back pain associated with numbness in the leg can cause a Herniated disc in the lumbar spine area (Lumbar spine) occur. Pain in the affected leg can also occur, as well as numbness, abnormal sensations, paralysis or reduced reflexes. A doctor should be consulted urgently if there are disorders of bladder and bowel emptying.

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Treatment vs. Therapy

Treatment and therapy for numbness in the leg depends on the underlying cause.

If the cause is a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, it is usually treated without surgery (conservative) if it is mild. This usually means physiotherapy and pain treatment. If the herniated disc is very pronounced, e.g. with a disorder of bladder and bowel emptying or severe paralysis, an operation can also be considered as a therapy.

In meralgia paresthetica, i.e. the nerve constriction under the inguinal ligament, the cause of the pressure increase in the area of ​​the inguinal ligament should be treated. In the case of trousers or belts that are too tight, it is relatively easy, they should simply be left out. A pregnancy that causes such a pressure increase has a regular end. If overweight is the cause, weight loss should be sought.

If multiple sclerosis is causing numbness in the leg, it is important to treat them adequately. It does this in the form of certain drugs. In the case of relapsing MS, the relapse usually occurs in the hospital cortisone treated. But one is also important Basic therapyThere are a number of medications available for this. Together with the attending physician, the best medication for the patient's disease is selected. Sometimes the drug also has to be changed if the desired effect has not occurred.

Other treatment options are available for other causes; the exact treatment will be discussed with you by your treating doctor depending on the cause.

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The duration of a feeling of numbness is difficult to define clearly. Often this depends on the cause of the disease and the treatment.

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The prognosis, so in this case the regression of numbness, depends largely on the underlying cause and the start of treatment. If there are many causes, the prognosis is good. However, if a nerve or nerve tract is permanently damaged, the numbness may also persist.

Further information can be found under our topics:Progression of a herniated disc

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Quality assurance by: Dr. Nicolas Gumpert | Last change: 03.04.2021