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Tingling Legs

Tingling in feet and legs is a sign that tissue is starved of either blood or nervous input. Sitting with your legs crossed, places pressure on the Femoral artery, starving the tissues in the lower legs of oxygen. The result? Tingling legs. The cure? Uncross your legs!

More commonly, the source of the tingling is an irritated or frankly pinched nerve. It could be in the Brain or Spinal Cord, but more usually the site of injury is where the nerve emerges from the spine, in the buttock or the groin.

Two main nerves supplying the legs...

The sciatic nerve belongs the very lowermost part of your lumbar spine, coursing via the buttock to the leg and foot.

The femoral nerve on the other hand emerges from rather higher in the lumbar spine, and courses through the groin to the top of the upper leg, and inner lower leg.


S1 nerve root

It helps your chiropractor if you can tell him/her precisely where your tingling in feet and legs is. For example, does the tingling go to the side of your foot? However, whilst for 75% of people a sciatica from the L5-S1 joint will go down the back of the thigh and leg, and to the side of the foot, less commonly (see the yellow and green patterns) it may mimic a sciatica from the L4-L5 joint, and go down the side of the leg.

Thus, one can not be certain of which disc is effected by the dermatomal pattern. A careful physical examination of the spine is in order. Sometimes, because not uncommonly degenerative change occurs at several levels, an MRI is necessary to confirm with absolute certainty at which level the offending lesion is to be found that is causing tingling in feet and legs.

Irritated nerves in the lumbar spine by a

slipped disk ...

lumbar facet syndrome ...


may cause


pain, and

possibly weakness in the legs and feet.

The most common sciatica refers to the outside of the foot and the small toe. If there is weakness you will have difficulty standing on one foot and raising your heel from the ground.

Try it! Hold onto a chair, stand on one leg and raise your heel repeatedly. You should be able to do it without any sign of fatigue or shaking of the lower leg. An S1 sciatica may make this difficult.

In my opinion, everyone should be doing some gentle lumbar exercises, because we all sit too much, and almost the whole population will experience acute low back pain at some stage of their lives. But this is vitally important if you have tingling in the feet and legs.

Tapping on the Achilles tendon tests the integrity of the S1 nerve to determine if it could be the cause of tingling legs.
L5 nerve root
The L5 nerve root is most commonly affected by the L4-L5 disc joint, though the nerve emerges at one level lower. The tingling in feet and legs (and/or pain) is more commonly on the side of the lower leg, and the great toe, though it can affect the side of the thigh too.

If there is weakness, you will be unable to lift your great toe off the ground. This means that you may trip as you walk, as you foot isn't lifted properly in the swing phase. Is your leg tingling, and do you also have weakness?

L4 nerve root
The L4 nerve root is less commonly the cause of tingling in feet and legs and, when it does, it's a real bugger. In my experience it responds less well to manipulation, and better to flexion-disctraction. It shares slips with both the sciatic and the femoral nerves.

The knee jerk reflex may be reduced, and weakness can affect the major flexor of the knee, the Quadriceps muscle. The result is a profound limp, and weakness on stair-climbing, as well as a leg tingling.


Less frequently troublesome than the Sciatic nerve, the Femoral nerve typically causes pain in the groin and front part of the thigh, and weakness of the Quadriceps muscle. So does hip arthritis, so careful examination is paramount...

Meralgia Paresthetica
Then there are some...

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