You’re sitting in a comfy camping chair at your daughter’s baseball game cheering her team on when you feel some numbness and tingling in your lower left leg. You go to massage the feeling back and find that your one leg is colder than the other. You try to move it in circles to regain some feeling and it doesn’t help. Getting up to stretch, you realize your legs feel achy and tired as well. You wonder what causes your leg to go numb like this and if it could indicate something serious.
“If you’ve ever experienced leg numbness or one leg colder than the other, you’re not alone,” says Dr. Yan Katsnelson.
Between 8 to 12 million people living in the U.S. have a serious vascular disease known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD occurs when plaque buildup within the arteries blocks blood flow to the legs, thighs, calves, buttocks, ankles, and feet.
A common warning sign of moderate to severe PAD is chronic numbness, tingling, or coolness in one or both of your legs. Blocked arteries can lead to heart attack, stroke, and amputation; therefore, you should never ignore PAD symptoms.
What Causes Numbness In One Leg?
There are a few explanations you may have felt one leg colder than the other. However, one reason you may be experiencing numbness in one leg (whether it be your left or right) is due to a partially or fully blocked artery. When your legs and feet aren’t getting the blood flow they need to function properly, you could feel a number of peripheral artery disease symptoms including:
- Achy, tired legs
- Heaviness in one or both of your legs/feet
- Cramping in your buttocks, thigh, calf, or feet
- Leg(s) turning a pale blue or grey color
- Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
- Slow or non-healing wounds
- Coolness felt in one leg compared to the other
These are only a few of the many signs and symptoms of PAD; you can check out the full list here. If you have noticed that both of your legs feel numb and tingly or one foot is cold to the touch, you should consult a vascular specialist as soon as possible.
Is Having One Leg Colder Than the Other Serious?
If you’ve noticed one of your legs is colder than the other and you are experiencing other PAD symptoms, you need to see a vascular specialist immediately.
Temperature changes in your leg may indicate a moderate to severe level of peripheral artery disease. Moderate to severe PAD is characterized as partially to almost fully blocked arteries. A blockage means that the tissues and muscles in your legs aren’t getting enough oxygenated blood. Yan Katsnelson, M.D., warns that without sufficient blood flow, the tissues in your legs and feet may begin to shut down and die.
As a result, people who do not get PAD treated can be at a significant risk of heart attack, stroke, and gangrene – resulting in amputation.
Treatment for Cold or Numb Legs
Living with uncomfortable symptoms like one leg being cool to the touch or numbness can limit your activity level and lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, having a numbing sensation in your leg can be dangerous as it can lead to injury. If you can’t feel your leg, you may not realize you’ve been injured or that you have an open wound. Many people with leg numbness leave slow or non-healing wounds untreated because they can’t feel that they have them. If your legs feel numb and tingly or one leg is colder than the other, you should seek treatment as soon as you can.
Thankfully, diagnosis and treatment for peripheral artery disease is simple as well as convenient. At USA Vascular Centers, our vascular specialists use either an angiogram or ankle-brachial index (ABI) test to determine the severity of your condition. After you receive a clear diagnosis, our experienced physicians will work with you to choose a treatment plan that fits your individual needs. Nonsurgical PAD treatments like stent angioplasty or atherectomy can help restore blood flow to your legs eliminating symptoms such as numbness, one leg being cool to the touch compared to the other, and tingling sensations.
Give us a call at 888-773-2193 or contact us conveniently online to learn more about our vascular specialists, locations near you, as well as treatment information. Don’t wait for your cold or numb legs to worsen; take the first step towards a healthier, more active life today.
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vascular Centers, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vein Clinics, and USA Oncology Centers with more than 90 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home, and his mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.