What does it mean when you feel drops of water?

Phantom MS Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis can be a disease stacked high with so called “invisible” symptoms — things that happen to our bodies that no one else can see. These maladies can range from (but are not limited to) fatigue, pain, numbness, cognitive dysfunction, bladder and bowel issues, and the list goes on.

There are also, in the wonderful world of our stupid commonality, symptoms that can be even more frustrating to explain: phantom symptoms.

We’ve chatted about “the cold hand of MS” in our pages before. A new one woke me in the early hours before the roster down the lane made his morning announcements, and so I thought we’d talk about them again.

By definition, a phantom sensation is something we experience that isn’t really happening. The creepy crawlies that feel like bugs on our skin are a perfect example. I will often get an icy cold drip falling onto my thigh that feels like water or wax splashing onto my leg. Many of you have chimed in over the years with some of your not-really-there experiences.

This morning — so early it should be called last night — I awoke lying on my left side to a vibration in the bed that was so very real that I thought maybe someone had put a washing machine on the spin cycle under our bed. When I was awake enough to analyze the sensation, I eventually understood that it was something related to MS and that I wasn’t really vibrating.

First, the bed was not moving. That was pretty easy to ascertain. Next I came to understand that it was only the left side of my body that was feeling the harmonic bodily hum.

RELATED: Don’t miss these lifestyle tips from people who have MS. Find answers on Tippi.

Still, the sensation was so real that I placed my right hand all over my port side to see if I could feel any movement. None was to be had.

It’s one thing to have a tic or twitch where I can say to Caryn, “Can you feel (or see) this happening to me?” and she can experience the oddity as well. To feel something that really isn’t happening is a whole other level of crazy.

Whatever lesion on whatever part of my electrical system that was causing the formidable rumble was only affecting my left side, but it was the entirety of that side of my body — from the center of my spine to my sternum, and from crown to heel. It lessened when I rolled to my back and became even fainter when I continued to my starboard beam, but it didn’t disappear altogether.

As I sit (still many hours before the Apollo is scheduled to make his daily chariot run across the sky) I still note a faint vibration in every part of that side. My teeth, my ears, fingers, buttock, toenails… it’s just there.

But it isn’t there, for nothing is really moving. This thing that I can feel from the inside cannot be experienced by anyone else or even the part of me intimate enough to share the same skin and organs.

Weird disease ,this multiple sclerosis thing; weird, indeed.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



You can also follow me via our Life With MS Facebook page, on Twitter, and in our group on MS Connection.org. Also, check out our bi-monthly MS blog for the United Kingdom, look for our very special new monthly blog for the National MS Society, and don’t forget to check out TrevisLGleason.com.

Causes of Cold Knees and How to Treat Them

A variety of things can cause your knees to feel unusually cold. Some involve only the area around your knees or legs. Some are underlying conditions that can make you feel cold over a larger part of your body. These conditions usually have additional symptoms.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

Arthritis is a group of conditions that involve inflammation in your joints. Osteoarthritis is the result of gradual wear and tear of the cartilage in the joint. Knee arthritis is a major cause of disability. The main symptoms are:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness

Some people with osteoarthritis of the knee experience increased sensitivity to cold. A 2017 study notes that when compared with the control group, these patients also had:

  • decreased physical health
  • lower pressure pain threshold in the knee
  • increased pain
  • greater functional impairment
  • more features of neuropathic pain

These symptoms may point to increased central sensitization of the knee. Women are more likely than men to report that their knees are affected by cold weather.

Peripheral neuropathy

Damage to the peripheral nerves is called peripheral neuropathy. While it mainly affects hands and feet, it can affect other areas of your body, including your knees.

The peripheral nerves transmit messages between your central nervous system and the rest of your body. A disruption in these messages can lead to:

  • freezing, burning, or stabbing pain
  • extreme sensitivity to touch
  • numbness or tingling that begins in your feet or hands and spreads into your arms and legs

Causes of neuropathy include:

  • diabetes
  • accidental trauma to the nerves
  • overuse injuries
  • tumors
  • alcohol use disorder
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • exposure to toxic substances
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • bone marrow disorders
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Neuropathy can also be due to autoimmune diseases such as:

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • lupus
  • necrotizing vasculitis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

Or infections such as:

  • diphtheria
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Lyme disease
  • shingles

Peripheral artery disease

In peripheral artery disease, there’s a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in arteries that service vital organs and your legs. This can cause blood to clot, blocking blood flow to your legs. That can lead to:

  • one leg having a lower temperature than the other
  • skin that looks pale or blue
  • no pulse in your leg or foot
  • wounds that don’t heal well
  • poor toenail growth
  • decreased hair on your legs
  • erectile dysfunction

Risk factors for this condition include:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • smoking

Raynaud’s phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which you have episodes of narrowing of your blood vessels, or vasospasm. These episodes are triggered by cold temperatures or stress.

During a vasospasm, there’s a reduction of blood flow from your heart to the rest of your body. This usually affects your fingers and toes, but it’s possible in your legs and knees as well. Areas of your skin may turn pale, white, or even blue. You might feel cold or numb.

Then, as blood begins to flow freely again, color returns. You might feel a throbbing, tingling, or burning sensation.


Hypothyroidism means you have an underactive thyroid. It’s not making all the hormones you need to function. It can cause many symptoms, including:

  • difficulty tolerating cold
  • joint and muscle pain
  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • weight gain

There are a variety of causes for hypothyroidism, including:

  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • radiation treatment on your thyroid
  • thyroid surgery
  • inflammation of your thyroid
  • genetics

What can cause a burning sensation?

Share on PinterestA burning sensation can occur anywhere on the body.

The location of the sensation can give a good indication of its cause. For example, a burning feeling in the muscles may be the result of an injury, while a burning sensation on the skin is likely the result of having come into contact with an allergen or an irritant, such as poison ivy.

Below are some of the most common locations of burning sensations and possible underlying causes:

While urinating

Feeling pain or a burning sensation while urinating is often a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are much more common in women, and other symptoms can include a fever and a strong, continual urge to urinate.

Infections can affect the bladder, kidneys, or urethra. If left untreated, an infection can spread to other areas of the body. It can also harm the kidneys, and anyone who suspects that they have a UTI should see a doctor. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics.

The following can also cause a burning sensation during urination:

  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • prostatitis, which refers to inflammation of the prostate
  • a physical injury to the urethra or surrounding tissue — often the result of shaving, sexual intercourse, or friction from clothing


Throughout the day, the skin comes into contact with a range of possible irritants. The following sources of irritation can lead to a burning sensation:

  • sunburn
  • plants that sting or cause a rash, such as nettles, poison ivy, or poison sumac
  • insect bites and stings, such as from wasps, bees, and spiders
  • allergic reactions to lotions, perfumes, detergents, or other substances that come into contact with the skin
  • very dry skin, particularly during the winter months
  • conditions such as eczema
  • anxiety or stress, particularly if a person is worried about skin conditions
  • nerve damage resulting from degenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis

An intense burning sensation on the skin can also be caused by cellulitis. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deepest layers of skin. It is treated with antibiotics.

Cellulitis can spread quickly, so it is important to receive treatment right away. See a doctor if a burning sensation is accompanied by:

  • fever
  • swelling, heat, or redness of the skin
  • swollen and painful glands

Hands and feet

A burning sensation in the hands and feet is often caused by one of the skin issues mentioned in the previous section.

However, burning in the fingers or toes could be a symptom of nerve damage. The medical community refers to this as peripheral neuropathy.

Up to 50 percent of people with diabetes may have peripheral neuropathy. A person with diabetes should speak with a doctor if they experience any of the following in the hands or feet:

  • pain
  • burning
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • weakness

Some other medical problems that may cause peripheral neuropathy include:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • several infections, such as shingles and HIV
  • injuries and accidents
  • vitamin deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12
  • kidney and liver disease
  • cancer

Raynaud’s phenomenon can also cause a burning sensation in the hands and feet. It causes the small arteries in these extremities to spasm and close when exposed to the cold. Consequently, the fingers and toes receive less blood. They can turn white, and a person may feel a burning or stinging sensation, as well as numbness.

This condition can similarly affect the nose, lips, and ears. Symptoms disappear when a person warms themselves, increasing blood flow.


Share on PinterestThe feeling of burning in the muscles after working out is typically due to the release of lactic acid.

A person may feel a burning sensation in certain muscles when lifting weights or doing other strenuous exercises. This is typically due to the release of lactic acid.

A person may also feel this when they try a new exercise or start exercising more often. The soreness and burning sensation may be delayed. These symptoms are usually mild and tend to go away after a few days.

An intense burning sensation may indicate a muscle injury, such as a sprain or strain. If this feeling does not get better over time or spreads to several muscles, a person may have a chronic condition, such as fibromyalgia.

Other causes of a burning sensation in the muscles include:

  • arthritis
  • myofascial pain syndrome
  • a herniated disc in the spine

Mouth or throat

A burning sensation in the throat is often the result of an infection, such as strep throat. A person with strep throat may feel worse pain when talking, and the area may feel raw and scratchy. Strep throat is often accompanied by fever, chills, and other cold- or flu-like symptoms.

Strep throat is common in children, but relatively uncommon in adults.

Acid reflux can also cause a burning sensation in the throat. The sensation may be intermittent, but it tends to follow an acidic meal. People with acid reflux may also experience a feeling of burning in the chest, belching, and stomach discomfort.

Burning sensations in the mouth and gums are often the result of irritation caused by:

  • gum disease
  • vigorous tooth brushing
  • acidic foods

Canker sores can also cause this feeling. They are small, red or white sores that often appear on the lips or tongue. They can be quite painful but typically go away on their own after several days.


A burning sensation in or around the genitals can result from skin irritation, such as that caused by getting soap in the vagina.

Tiny wounds caused by shaving or sexual intercourse can also lead to a temporary feeling of burning.

Infections are often responsible for a burning sensation in the genitals. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis commonly lead to a feeling of burning, itchiness, and unusual discharge, for example, and bacterial vaginosis can also cause a fishy vaginal odor.

Genital burning can also result from a wide range of STIs.

Phantom raindrops? Looking for others with similar experiences?

What I’m referring to is the feeling of a single or multiple water drops falling on your skin, and yet, when you check, your skin doesn’t seem to be wet at all. There is also no clear source of the droplet (no clouds in the sky, you’re inside and there are no leaks in the ceiling and so on.)

It’s not anything super creepy, but kind of interesting nonetheless. I’ve done some googling, and it seems some other people have experienced it as well, but no-one has a rational explanation to offer.

The first time it happened was in the middle of the night. I was relaxing in my bed, half-asleep and listening to music, when I was suddenly started by a cool drop of water landing my hand. I turned on the lights, and there was nothing on my hand, and neither on the ceiling. I was pretty weirded out for a while, but eventually dismissed the whole thing. A lot of weirder, perhaps paranormal stuff was happening at the house at the time, but going through all that would definitely require a thread of it’s own. Just know that this wasn’t a separated incident in an otherwise normal house.

The second time, there was a more menacing setting. Me and a friend had decided to go do a little exploring that quickly turned into a wannabe ghost hunt. We headed for the the narrow roads and abandoned-looking houses in the forest. It was really dark, and the mood got tense fast. Then, I suddenly I felt a splash of water on the back of my neck. When I reached out my to wipe it away, there was absolutely nothing. The amount of water should’ve been large enough to leave parts of my hair drenched.

The third time was quite recently. I headed out for a little night walk in the forests. Now, you should know that I’m very used to forests by now, having spent my whole life near them, and I’m not easily scared by them, not even during night time. But suddenly, I get a really bad feeling about this dead tree in the middle of all kinds of luscious greenery. I assumed it was just because it looked pretty creepy and odd with the weird shapes the branches were curled into, but then I spotted something that looked like someone standing amongst the trees. First I assumed that it was a human shaped rock or something, but when I blinked, the shape disappeared. Still, dead-set on convincing myself my imagination is just playing tricks on me, but definitely creeped out by now, I continued on my way. And then I felt it, a couple raindrops on my both arms. I looked up, but there were clouds nowhere to be seen. Needless to say, I walked back home a lot faster than I had walked all the way there.

I very much hope it’s a nerve thing, that maybe has something to do with me being scared but a) I’ve never had it happening when there was something scary, but not in any way paranormal-related happening, b) I wasn’t scared beforehand the first time it happened. c) It only happens after dark.

I’m just curious if anyone else has experienced this. I’ve never heard anyone describe feeling phantom droplets when encountering something paranormal.

And maybe I should also add that it’s not something feeling somewhat like water, it is the exact feeling. If you poured water on my other hand while this was happening to the other, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference unless I looked. I can also still feel the wetness lingering, even after I realize that there is nothing there.

TL;DR: Does anyone else have experience with phantom drops of water falling on there skin now and then when there is definitely no actual source? Is this in anyway linked with paranormal encounters? Does anyone have a rational explanation?

This Is MS Multiple Sclerosis Knowledge & Support Community

Hello. My name is Tabitha. I’m 29 years old. I’m engaged and have 3 beautiful children and I’m planning to adopt my sisters newborn girl unless it becomes physically impossible to do so. I don’t have medical insurance so I’ve been self pay for a while now. Only seeing the doctors that my PC tells me to see. I recently visited a rheumatologist because my doctor thought I might have rheumatoid arthritis. I’m currently waiting for blood test results.
Anyway, at my last visit to my doctor, he said that he thinks I might have MS because of a few of my symptoms. I haven’t even had the chance to tell him all of my symptoms but I hope to some day. I’d appreciate any thoughts you’d like to share Thank you!
My symptoms:
– When I stand up (whether it’s fast or slow) I get a really strange sensation in my legs and head (almost like they’re filling with air) and I feel like I need to sit as quickly as possible or I’ll fall over. Sometimes I lose vision completely for a few seconds.
– Once when I was in Toronto with my fiance, I suddenly had the worst pain I’ve ever had in both of my legs. I could barely take a step without screaming in pain. It went away after about 3 days.
– Sudden random sharp pains in my joints.
– Severe itching and pain in random hand and foot joints that result in pretty bad swelling. The pain basically feels like the ache from leaving a body part in freezing water for too long.
– Severe heat intolerance. If I’m exposed to heat for too long, I get very dizzy, confused, my pain increases drastically and I feel like I’m going to faint.
– Random cold or wet spots on my skin. I’ll feel something like a drop of rain hitting my forearm when there obviously isn’t anything there.
– Random shocking feelings on my skin. I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
– Severely blurred vision that used to come and go but has been constant for months now. I feel like I need to open my eyes wider to see more clearly but it never works which then results in a headache.
– Sharp pain in the right side of my head. Always in the same spot.
– Auras in my vision, followed by confusion and memory problems.
– Horrible back pain… everywhere in my back. Diagnosed as degenerative disc disease.
– Large amounts of hair loss that luckily never seems to lead to bald spots.
– Random “numb patches” on my skin.
– Bad itching all over.
– Clumsiness when I walk. Suddenly veering to the right or left for no apparent reason. I can’t walk with another person without running into them.
– Horrible pain in the soles of my feet when I stand or walk for more than maybe 10 minutes.
– I’m not sure how to describe this one but, sometimes when I’m sitting, I’ll get that feeling you get when blood rushes back to a limb after the circulation has been cut off for a time. No matter how I readjust or move, I can’t make it go away. I’ve also had this in my arms but only a couple times.
– Neck pain that feels like pain in a vein. Almost like it’s more internal or something.
– Left and right sided chest pains that make me feel dizzy.
– Palpitations.
– Low AND high blood pressure.
– My resting pulse is almost always above 90.
– I used to pride myself on my spelling and grammar but lately I’ve noticed I’m forgetting the basics and I end up embarrassing myself.
– Sometimes I get a very odd sensation in parts of my body (most recently in my wrists) that almost feels like someone’s wrapped their hand around my wrist and applied significant pressure.
– A blind spot in my left eye that is made worse by looking up, down, left or right without moving my head.
– The “pins and needles” feeling almost always in one body part or another. I get it in my hands a LOT. I hate this so much because it makes me not want to touch anything or I’ll feel like I need to keep using lotion.
– Strange jerking of my muscles at any given time. Sometimes when I’m in bed (not asleep or falling asleep) my leg will suddenly jerk across the bed like I kicked it out when I didn’t.
– Another hard one to explain… I’ll be sitting in bed with my legs either crossed or in front of me and suddenly my torso will… “rock” backward or forward. I guess that would be categorized as involuntary movements.
– Horrible fatigue whether I sleep or not.
– Spots on my skin that when scratched hurt pretty bad for about 10 seconds.
– Pain on my scalp when I touch or move my hair. The best way to describe this is the pain some women get when they’ve had their hair up for too long and then let it down.
– Swallowing difficulties. I CAN swallow, but sometimes I have a hard time. For instance, when I eat a small piece of candy, I have to swallow like 3 times to get rid of the lump in my throat.
– Sometimes I can see AND hear my heart beat.
– Horrible shoulder pain and the inability to lift my left arm higher than my shoulder. This was diagnosed as bursitis in both shoulders.
I guess my doctor will be referring me to a neurologist soon and I’m pretty worried but, I’ll take things as they happen I guess.
It’s nice to be here. I hope to make some new friends.

Causes of Arachnoiditis

Inflammation of the arachnoid can lead to the formation of scar tissue and can cause the spinal nerves to stick together and malfunction. The arachnoid can become inflamed because of an irritation from one of the following sources:

  • Direct injury to the spine.
  • Chemicals: Dye used in myelograms (diagnostic tests in which a dye called radiographic contrast media is injected into the area surrounding the spinal cord and nerves) have been blamed for some cases of arachnoiditis. The radiographic contrast media responsible for this is no longer used, however. Also, there is concern that the preservatives found in epidural steroid injections may cause arachnoiditis.
  • Infection from bacteria or viruses: Infections such as viral and fungal meningitis or tuberculosis can affect the spine.
  • Chronic compression of spinal nerves: Causes for this compression include chronic degenerative disc disease or advanced spinal stenosis (narrowing of spinal column).
  • Complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures: Similar causes include multiple lumbar (lower back) punctures.

Why Do I Feel a Warm Sensation in My Thigh?

The unique sensation of a warm feeling in your thigh can be puzzling. You may experience it as the feeling of spilled warm milk or as a hot, burning pain. The warmth may be localized to a specific area or may affect your entire thigh.


Depending on the underlying cause, warmth or pain in your thigh may occur in the front, outer and/or inner side, or the back of the thigh.

Several conditions can cause a warm feeling in your thigh, including nerve, muscle, and joint problems. Nerve pain may sometimes be felt as warmth, which may progress into sharp, searing pain in the later stages. Pain from muscles and joints may be felt as a warm sensation due to the inflammatory process of the underlying tissues.

Here are a few examples.


A radiculopathy due to nerve root irritation or compression near the spine, can cause a variety of leg symptoms, including the feeling of warmth in your thigh. Radiculopathy from the lumbar nerve roots L1-L4 may cause1:

  • Pain along the outer side of the thigh, typically localized within a 5 to 8 cm wide area
  • Numbness and weakness in the outer and/or inner thigh

See Lumbar Radiculopathy

When radicular pain from the spinal nerve roots radiates from the lower back into the thigh, leg, and/or foot, it is called sciatica. Sciatica is usually caused when one or more nerve roots from L4 to S1 are affected.2

See What You Need to Know About Sciatica

Radicular pain typically affects one leg at a time and is caused due to nerve root compression from herniated lumbar disc, degeneration of spinal structures, or tumors.

See Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain


Meralgia paresthetica

When a nerve is compressed, entrapped, or degenerated along its path, it is called neuropathy. Meralgia paresthetica is caused due to neuropathy of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which is a superficial sensory nerve in the thigh.3 A few typical characteristics include4:

  • Pain in the side and/or front of one or both thighs
  • Buzzing or vibration felt inside your thigh
  • Muscle ache and numbness in your thigh

See Understanding Neuropathy Symptoms

The pain may increase with prolonged standing and walking and reduce while sitting.4

Meralgia paresthetica is typically caused when a direct compression of the nerve occurs due to tight garments, pressure from seat belts, direct trauma, or muscle spasm in the hip. Other causes include damage to the nerve due to diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, and lead poisoning.4 Severe abdominal fat can also cause meralgia paresthetica.

Watch: Causes of Neuropathic Pain Video

Other types of nerve pain in the thigh include femoral and obturator neuropathy. Obturator nerve pain may produce symptoms in the inner thigh, and femoral neuropathy usually causes symptoms from the thigh to travel down into the knee, leg, and/or foot.5

See Treatment Options for Neuropathic Pain

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS)

GTPS is defined by a range of problems in the hip and may cause symptoms such as warmth or aches in the side of the thigh and hip. GTPS includes6:

  • Tendinopathy: Chronic tendon pain
  • External snapping hip: A muscle or tendon slides over the knobby bone at the top of the femur (thighbone), called the greater trochanter, causing pain and tenderness

    See 3 Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome on Sports-health

  • Trochanteric bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid-filled cavity present on the side of the hip

    See Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis on Arthritis-health

GTPS typically causes chronic intermittent pain in the side of the thigh, hip, and buttock. The pain increases with activity and while lying down on the affected side.6

Hip osteoarthritis

Wear-and-tear arthritis of the hip joint may cause the sensation of warmth in the front and side of your thigh. Additional symptoms include:

  • Pain along the side and/or front of the thigh, groin, and hip7-8
  • Stiffness in the hip8
  • Locking, clicking, or grinding sound from the hip joint during movements8

See What Is Hip Osteoarthritis? on Arthritis-health

The warm sensation and other symptoms typically increase with activity, after prolonged sitting, or after waking in the morning. Sometimes, the pain may radiate down to the knee.8

See Hip Osteoarthritis Symptoms on Arthritis-health

It is advised to consult a doctor if warmth, pain, or other symptoms develop in your thigh. If symptoms such as fever, nausea, difficulty walking or standing are resent, they may indicate serious underlying conditions, such as tumors, infection, or severe nerve damage. A doctor can diagnose the accurate cause of your symptom(s) and formulate an effective treatment plan.

See Accurately Diagnosing Leg Pain

Learn more:

Leg Pain and Numbness: What Might These Symptoms Mean?

Causes of Leg Pain and Foot Pain

Nerve Pain in the Leg

Nerves in the leg may become inflamed, compressed, or degenerated as a result of mechanical or chemical irritants. Nerves may also become damaged due to associated conditions such as diabetes or nutritional deficiencies. Depending on the cause of nerve damage, the specific leg symptoms may differ.

Nerve pain is typically described as sharp, shooting, electric-like, or searing pain. It may also produce a sensation of hot or warm water running down the thigh and/or leg. In some individuals, a dull ache may occur. The pain may be intermittent or constant.

See Anatomy Of Nerve Pain

The most common types of nerve pain in the leg are described below.


Sciatica is radicular nerve pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve roots in the lower back are irritated or compressed. Read more: What You Need to Know About Sciatica

The medical term for leg pain that originates from a problem in the nerve roots of the lumbar and/or sacral spine is radiculopathy (the lay term is sciatica). This pain may be caused when the nerve roots are inflamed, irritated, or compressed.1 The characteristics of this pain depend on the specific nerve root(s) affected.

See Lumbar Radiculopathy


Research indicates 95% of radiculopathy in the lumbosacral spine occurs at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels. The pain from these nerve roots is characterized by2:

  • Pain that originates in the lower back or buttock and travels down the thigh, calf, and foot.
  • Numbness in the calf, foot, and/or toes.
  • Weakness in the hip, thigh, and/or foot muscles.

Depending on the individual, additional sensations may occur, such as a feeling of pins-and-needles in the leg, warm water running down the thigh, or the foot immersed in hot water. Radiculopathy typically affects one leg.

In This Article:

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage to one or more nerves in the peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord) is called peripheral neuropathy. This form of neuropathy in the leg most commonly occurs due to diabetes.3,4 Diabetic peripheral neuropathy commonly causes:

  • Pain that originates in the toes and gradually spreads toward the knee (also called stocking-glove pattern; the action of putting on a stocking)
  • Numbness in the legs and feet
  • Weakness in the toes and ankles during the later stages of the condition

Peripheral neuropathy pain typically affects both legs.

See All About Neuropathy And Chronic Back Pain

Lumbosacral Radiculoplexus Neuropathy

This condition occurs due to inflammation of small blood vessels in the legs leading to reduced blood supply to the nerves, resulting in nerve damage. This condition is commonly seen in diabetic individuals and may also be caused by other issues. Common symptoms include5:

  • Pain that usually begins in a specific location, such as the buttock, hip, thigh, leg, or foot and gradually spreads to other areas of the leg
  • Numbness and a prickling feeling in the affected areas
  • Weakness in the leg muscles
  • Loss of balance, which may cause falls

Typically, several nerves are affected together. The condition may develop in one leg and over time involve both legs.5

Peroneal Neuropathy

Compression of the peroneal nerve near the knee may cause symptoms in the leg. Typical symptoms include6:

  • Foot drop, characterized by the inability to lift the foot, or a catch in the toes while walking
  • Numbness along the side of the leg, the upper part of the foot, and/or the first toe web space

Pain is not a typical feature of this condition but may be present when peroneal neuropathy occurs as a result of trauma.

See What Is Foot Drop?


Meralgia Paresthetica

Compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve in the thigh may cause a condition called meralgia paresthetica. Symptoms typically include7:

  • Burning or achy pain in the outer side and/or front of the thigh
  • Coldness in the affected areas
  • Buzzing or vibrations (such as from a cell phone) in the thigh region

Meralgia paresthetica pain typically increases while standing or walking and alleviates while sitting.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Dysfunction of the tibial nerve due to nerve compression within the foot’s tarsal tunnel causes this syndrome. Common symptoms include8:

  • Sharp, shooting pain in the inner ankle joint and along the sole of the foot
  • Numbness in the sole of the foot
  • Tingling and/or burning sensation in the foot

The symptoms typically worsen at night, with walking or standing, and/or after physical activity; and get better with rest.

Neurogenic Claudication

This type of leg pain occurs due to narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) causing compression of the spinal cord. This compression may occur due to bone spurs (abnormal bone growth), lumbar disc herniation, or spondylolisthesis (forward slippage of a vertebra).

The symptoms of neurogenic claudication typically occur in both legs and include9:

  • Pain and numbness while walking, standing, or performing upright exercises
  • Weakness during leg movements

Neurogenic claudication pain typically increases while bending the spine backward and decreases while bending forward at the waist, sitting, or lying down.

A qualified medical professional can help diagnose the exact cause of nerve pain in the leg based on the type of presenting symptoms, medical history, and by performing certain clinical tests.

See Accurately Diagnosing Leg Pain

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