Leg Numbness During Pregnancy: Causes and Remedies

Pregnancy is an interesting time. It is nine months of strange cravings, hormonal, and physical changes. You may find yourself yearning for talc or even pickles on ice cream. But there is more that comes with carrying a baby in your belly. Sometimes, your leg goes completely numb, sending shock waves down your spine. But don’t worry because, as you will find out soon, numb leg is common in pregnancy.

What Causes Numb Leg in Pregnancy?

A numb leg is common during pregnancy. Usually, the legs feel a strange tingling, prickly sensation. At times this sensation can also affect the arms, and feet. The sensation is more common during the night or in the morning. The main cause of the numb feeling is:

  • Lying in one position for a long time
  • Pressure on the nerves caused by swelling
  • Stretching of the belly as the baby grows

There are some cases where numbness is a symptom of a disease or condition such as anemia or sciatica. Whatever the cause, if the numbness is prolonged, you may need to visit your doctor for further checkup.

How to Relieve It

Meanwhile, there are some home remedies that you can take to make yourself more comfortable. These include the following:

  • Keep off from lifting heavy weights. Ideally, avoid lifting things that are more than 5 pounds.
  • Sit up while resting instead of lying down to avoid the numbing sensation. Lying down increases chances of numbness of leg in pregnancy.
  • If you must lie down, then do so on your left side.
  • Exercise with caution. Always check with your doctor for advice on the type of exercise that is good for you. Monitor to see if you feel numb after exercising. There may be a move that is causing you to go numb.

Medical Conditions That May Cause Leg Numbness

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common occurrence during pregnancy that is characterized by tingling, numbness and even pain in the wrists and fingers. If you have experienced symptoms of CTS before pregnancy, chances are that the condition may worsen during pregnancy.

CTS occurs when there is pressure exerted on the median nerve that runs through the arm. The nerve goes through carpal tunnel passage. If you wake up in the morning with weak arms and tingling fingers, you may be affected by CTS.

Consult your doctor if symptoms persist, bearing in mind that CTS worsens during the third trimester. The condition disappears gradually after giving birth.

Cause

As mentioned above, CTS is caused by pressure exerted on the median nerve that runs through the arm under the carpal tunnel. Symptoms of weakness and tingling occur in areas where the nerve serves. It is more common in the final trimester and is also common in people who use their hands often in activities such as typing.

Chances of getting CTS increases during pregnancy due to increased body fluid that may cause pressure on the median nerve. Conditions such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and diabetes can increase chances of fluid retention and therefore, the chances of CTS and numb leg in pregnancy.

Treatment

Treatment involves reducing the pressure and pain on the median nerve using:

  • Painkillers
  • Diuretics to remove excess fluid in the body
  • Injections to reduce the swelling in the wrists
  • Decrease motion of the affected hands until the pain stops.

Sciatica

Sciatica occurs when pressure is exerted on the sciatic nerve that runs down the lower back through the buttocks and down to the legs. The pressure on the nerve causes pain to radiate from the lower back and can cause numb leg in pregnancy. Symptoms of sciatica can increase with pregnancy especially during the third trimester.

Cause

Sciatic nerve pain results when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body), is inflamed or pressed. The pressure can affect both sides of the nerve or only one side.

The main cause of sciatica is lumbar disc herniation (slipped disc) that can irritate the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can also occur when the lumbar vertebra is affected by arthritis.

Other causes of pressure around the sciatic nerve include:

  • Pressure on the pelvic wall as the baby gets bigger and nearing the time of birth.
  • Retention of fluids in areas around the nerve
  • As the baby grows larger, the spine may curve due to the pressure ( also called lumbar lordosis).

Treatment

There are various ways to remedy sciatica and reduce the pain:

  • Painkillers
  • Massage/ physiotherapy
  • Suitable exercises such as stretches
  • Hot/cold compress
  • Steroids either oral or injections to reduce inflammation
  • Prescribed bed rest

Diabetic Neuropathy

Patients with diabetes are at risk of contracting diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Symptoms of DPN vary from person to person but the most common include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation.

Expectant women will often experience numb leg in pregnancy and maybe even more pronounced. Patients with diabetes may also experience fluid retention causing numbness and tingling.

Cause

Diabetes damages the blood vessels, causing dysfunction of the peripheral nerves. When left untreated, diabetes increases the chance of getting DPN.

Treatment

The best way to deal with DPN is by keeping blood sugar under control. Your doctor is best placed to advice on treatment especially due to pregnancy. The treatments include:

  • Painkillers
  • Topical treatments or patches to relieve pain
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-seizure medication

Keep hands and feet from extreme trauma and temperatures that may cause numbness. Be consistent in taking medication and follow a proper diet recommended for diabetic patients

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are essential for proper functioning of nerves. A deficiency of this vital vitamin can cause tingling and numb leg in pregnancy among other symptoms.

Cause

There are several factors that can cause a deficiency of vitamin B 12, the most obvious being inadequate dietary intake. Other causes include:

  • Poor absorption of nutrients in the body
  • Not taking vitamin B supplements during pregnancy
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Certain bowel illnesses
  • Autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anemia

Treatment

  • Eat enough animal proteins such as fish, poultry, and red meat.
  • Consistently take prenatal vitamins.
  • Vitamin B 12 injections in case the deficiency is severe.
 
 
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