We all know the tingling feeling well — you’re ready to stand up and suddenly realize your leg feels heavy and numb. Sometimes it can even have that telltale pins and needle feeling that actually does feel like pins and needles poking your legs from the inside out. This means your leg or both legs (or feet or hands or anything in between) have fallen asleep. In other words, you are likely temporarily suffering from paresthesia, according to Verywell Health.
Contrary to popular belief, paresthesia does not occur when blood circulation cuts off in your body. Instead, this is a nerve condition. In fact, paresthesia can cause other symptoms aside from numbness and “pins and needles”. Other symptoms include burning, tingling, itching, and difficulty with mobility.
Paresthesia is typically easy to manage quickly. Most people shake their limbs a bit and arm or leg function returns to normal. WebMD noted that you can avoid that fallen-asleep feeling by changing positions throughout the day.
While paresthesia is the most common cause of that pins and needles feeling, there are other health conditions many suffer from that can make sleeping legs more common.
If you have a back problem like sciatica, it can cause your legs to go numb when your sciatic nerve gets pinched, according to WebMD. Other injuries to your spine, hips, legs, ankles, feet, and torso can also put pressure on your nerves leading your legs to tingle or go numb.
People who suffer from multiple sclerosis can also have numb and tingling feet, as it’s a disorder that attacks the central nervous system. Diabetes is another chronic condition that can cause your legs to fall asleep, as long-term high blood sugar can damage your nerves. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy and can also affect the hands (via WebMD).
Peripheral artery disease does not cause tingling, according to WebMD, but it can cause numbness as your arteries narrow due to swelling and other damage, affecting leg circulation. WebMD also noted that a very rare condition, known as a peripheral nerve tumor, could be located near your leg nerves and could cause tingling. Thankfully, this type of tumor is most often benign.
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