why is my left leg going numb

Question: My leg keeps going numb when I sit at my desk. If I get up, this will go away. What is going on? Answer: When the back of your leg goes numb, this is called sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, approximately the size of your little finger. This nerve is made up of a group of nerves from your low back that combines together, travels through your buttock and down the back of your leg to your foot. It gives you both feeling and strength in your leg. If this nerve is pinched, you can experience mild discomfort progressing to severe pain. Typical symptoms include tingling, numbness, burning, shooting pain, aching and weakness in your leg. Several different conditions can cause sciatica. This includes a disc protrusion/herniation, arthritis in your spine causing compression, and misalignments in your spine, called subluxations.


I want to discuss another cause of sciatica--the piriformis syndrome. I find this is a very common cause of leg numbness and pain. The piriformis muscle is a deep buttock muscle that runs from your tailbone (sacrum) across to your hip bone. When it contracts, it causes your hip to rotate outward. The piriformis muscle is capable of pinching the sciatic nerve as it passes by. In your case, sitting increases the pressure on the buttock muscles and the sciatic nerve, resulting in numbness. Examination includes deep palpation (pressing) on the piriformis muscle, usually tender and tight. Often, this will reproduce the numbness or pain in your leg. As a chiropractor, I am interested in your alignment and posture. If your pelvis and hips are out of alignment, this can put more stress and tension on the piriformis muscle. Another common cause is foot pronation.


This is when your foot rolls inward as you step. This causes the piriformis muscle to contract harder, attempting to rotate your foot outward. Chiropractic treatment includes deep massage to the muscle to help it relax. Ice is used to reduce the inflammation in the muscle and nerve. We also use ultrasound therapy to reduce inflammation and electrical muscle stimulation to relax muscles. Proper stretching is key to keeping this muscle relaxed. Otherwise, it will tighten up again as you sit at a desk job. We treat this condition often in our office and have good results. If someone does not improve, other avenues of care include physical therapy, prescription medication or injections. Chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to treat your leg numbness and pain without the use of drugs or surgery. Copyright Y 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic.


All rights reserved. Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www. kschiro. com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.
Thanks for your question. It's not uncommon for a body part to go numb after staying in the same position for a long time, whether sitting or standing. This can be just the result of the excess pressure placed on the nerve or it can also be caused by neck or back trauma, a herniated disk in the spine, or a mass (such as a tumor or infection). Sciatica, which is pain in the buttocks, leg or low back, resulting from compression or irritation of one of the roots of the large sciatic nerve, is a common cause of pain and sometimes numbness in the buttocks and upper leg while sitting. Without knowing more about your situation, it's hard to know whether the purple fingernails you report are related to the numbness.


You are correct that poor circulation can cause both conditions, although it's also possible that your numbness and nail discoloration are not related. Poor circulation has a number of potential causes, including blocked arteries, varicose veins, liver or kidney disease, extreme cold, or as a side effect of certain drugs or medications. Patients with poor blood flow to their legs also might experience pain in their legs while walking (called claudication) or a loss of hair on their feet. Regardless of the cause of your numbness, I encourage you to discuss all your symptoms with your physician and in the meantime, be sure to move your legs frequently or get up and walk around periodically when you're working on your computer. Good luck!

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