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Why am I having burning pain and numbness in legs while resting?

Resolved Question:

Hai Doctor,

From the last 18 months, I have been suffering from some sort of burning, tingling pain on my lower legs, particularly while resting. Also, my right ankle and foot also tends to go numb while resting. In this course of time, intensity of pain increased considerably. Also, though not continuously, but continually, I experience fatigue and related pain in foot at times. Is this a symptom of some other disease? Please help me to recover from this chronic pain. Thank you.


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Expert:  Dr. John Monheit replied 4 Days.

Thank you for using Ask a Doctor Services from Doctor Spring.

I understand your problem. I will help you to my best to recover from this chronic pain .

The symptoms you are suffering from could possibly be of sciatica. Sciatica is a common type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back down the back of each leg. Common symptoms of sciatica are Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting, burning or tingling down the leg, Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot. Sciatica is not a diagnosis but a description of symptoms. Hence common conditions which causes sciatica are

  1. Herniated disc
  2. Degenerative lumbar disc disease/ spondylosis
  3. Spinal stenosis.

Other conditions which could mimic your symptoms include

  1. Peripheral neuropathy
  2. Restless leg syndrome
  3. Multiple sclerosis
  4. Tarsel tunnel syndrome.

Confirmatory definitive diagnosis can be made only after certain tests like x-ray spine/ CT of spine and a complete physical examination of you back and lower extremity.

Before the symptoms worsen I would strongly recommend you to consult a GP, who will do a thorough physical examination of back and lower extremity. He might perform series of physical tests such as straight leg raining test to identify the spinal cause for the leg pain.

He will also ask you for x-ray of spine, CT/MRI of lumbar spine. A definitive diagnosis can be made only after a thorough clinical examination and few radiological investigations. If necessary your GP might refer you to orthopaedic surgeon or spine surgeon for treatment.

You have mentioned that you have these symptoms for more than 18 months . I would like to know whether you have tried any medications or any other treatment to cure the pain. If you have taken any medication please let me know about it, because treatment of this condition depends on that. If you had tried the conservative methods of treatment to relieve pain like giving adequate rest, use of pain relievers like NSAIDs, physical therapy, muscle relaxation exercises and epidural steroid injection. For persistent sciatica (known as chronic), you may be advised to try a structured exercise programme under the supervision of a physiotherapist, Surgical procedures can sometimes be required for persisting sciatica. Sometimes pain management specialists help with chronic sciatica conditions.

I would advise at this stage for you to make an appointment with orthopaedic surgeon or GP as early possible. Your doctor might advise you to take certain painkillers which when used on long term do not pose serious side effects like paracetamol, however most doctors do not prefer using painkillers on long term. Other modality of treatment includes epidural steroid injection, physiotherapy. Failing of all these surgery could be advised.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask if you need further help.

Thank you.


Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Experience: 
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
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