Vibration sensation in legs

Vibration sensation in legs

An abnormal sensation resembling that made by insects creeping on the skin and numbness have many causes


First a feeling of numbness, then a vibration  sensation under the skin: everyone's foot has probably fallen asleep because you've sat on them for too long. The strange feeling afterwards is characteristic: as if hundreds of ants were walking up and down the whole foot. You know exactly that from your legs?

Circulatory disorders, sciatica, restless legs or nerve damage - many diseases share the so-called ant running as a symptom in the leg area. But what is it now with you?

In this article you will get to know various clinical pictures for which a pronounced vibration  or numbness in the legs is typical. You will find out: there is often one and the same cause behind many! At the bottom of the page you can find out which leg exercises can help you immediately against the vibration  sensation.


  1. Pure nerve: vibration  as a symptom

  2. Causes: What can a vibration sensation in the legs indicate?

2.1 Circulatory disorders

2.2 Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

2.3 Back illnesses / back pain

2.4 Neurological diseases

  1. Conventional treatment for vibration  in the legs

3.1 Medicines

3.2 Sport



1. Pure nerve: vibration  as a symptom

In a nutshell

  • Vibration is a sensory disorder (paraesthesia) on the surface of the skin that is caused by overactive sensory nerves.
  • In addition to the vibration or vibration  sensation, paresthesia can also manifest itself in a numb feeling. In this case, the sensitive nerves are inhibited in their transmission of stimuli ("underactive").
  • Sensory disturbances can occur in different parts of the body such as the toes, hands or face - and even in the legs.

In the next chapter you will get to the bottom of the fill vibration sensation in your legs. From harmless to alarming, you will then get to know the most important causes.

Vibration on the surface of our bodies is a sensation that we can perceive as uncomfortable or painful. Sensitive nerves or nerve endings play an important role: As part of the peripheral nervous system (all nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord), they run through our entire body - including the skin.


  • If these sensitive nerves are overactive, we immediately feel a discomfort. Direct external stimuli as a trigger are often not recognizable for this. In this case, doctors speak of what is known as paresthesia. Vibration is the main symptom of paresthesia.


  • This also includes ant running, unpleasant temperature sensations as well as a furry or painful feeling or burning sensation.


  • On the other hand, the nerves are “underactive” in cases of numbness and paralysis. Then they do not pass any stimulus signals on.


  • This sensory disorder is considered to be pathological, for example in the case of polyneuropathies (damage to the nerves), diabetes mellitus, alcohol addiction, severe disc damage or multiple sclerosis (chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system).


Paresthesia can occur anywhere on the body, not just the limbs such as the arms or legs. Such abnormal sensations can also appear on the face, on the hands or just on the toes.


2. Causes: What can a vibration sensation in the legs indicate?

In a nutshell

  • Reasons for abnormal sensations (vibration  and numbness) in the legs are:
  • Circulatory disorders,
  • Restless Legs Syndrome, for which restless legs and an uninhibited urge to move are characteristic,
  • from the conventional point of view certain back diseases such as herniated discs,
  • as well as neuropathies, often caused by diseases such as diabetes or alcohol abuse.
  • But there can always be pinched nerves behind the abnormal sensations, which are disturbed in their transmission of stimuli. Mostly it is a matter of muscular surges that press the nerve tracts, but also blood and lymph vessels, so that the tissue remains undersupplied.

In the next chapter you will learn which treatment options and therapies should help against these causes from the point of view of conventional medicine.

Vibration and numbness are sensory disorders and abnormal sensations (paresthesia), for which there are usually no externally clearly recognizable triggers in the form of certain stimuli.

There can be a wide variety of causes behind a vibration sensation in the legs. You are now reading which ones they are and which ones you should take particularly seriously.

2.1 Circulatory disorders

Let us first come to the most well-known cause of vibration in the legs and thus again to talk about extremities that have fallen asleep:


  • For example, if you have tucked one leg under your other to sit more comfortably and with more variety, the lower leg may soon feel numb. Then the nerves and vessels may be constricted where you sit on them. This means that your blood cannot circulate enough to supply your tissues. But that is usually not bad: As soon as you move, the blood starts flowing again - and this is accompanied by this typical, not painful, but still uncomfortable ant running or vibration sensation.
  • A disruption of the blood circulation due to the cold is a bit more risky. Because in order to protect the vital organs of the body, the blood retracts and the blood vessels constrict. In the worst case, the result is frostbite, usually on the hands, feet and nose first.

In contrast, a lack of blood flow due to peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD for short) is pathological and more complex:


  • PAD (peripheral arterial occlusive disease) is a circulatory disorder in the extremities. It occurs more on the legs and less often on the arms. The vessels narrow or close completely, often due to calcification (atherosclerosis). This increases the risk of coronary heart disease and disorders in the brain, including a stroke. Smokers, people suffering from diabetes (diabets mellitus) and people with high blood pressure are particularly at risk. The symptoms occur when you move, including pain when walking, cold legs, paleness and poor wound healing. If you notice such symptoms in yourself, you should get a medical examination to be on the safe side.


2.2 Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

This syndrome is characterized by an almost unhindered urge to move in the legs. However, the term “Restless Legs Syndrome” can easily be misleading.

Because it is not the actual movement of the legs that is disturbing, but rather the fact that those affected find it difficult to keep them still.

This is extremely uncomfortable: patients complain of muscle cramps, vibration, itching or even electrifying sensations. They feel these symptoms particularly on the calves or thighs - deep in the tissue, less often on the surface

RLS is one of the most common neurological movement disorders. Around six to nine percent of Germans suffer from it, women twice as often as men. The reasons for this are iron deficiency and high estrogen levels, which affect nerve communication, as well as diseases (migraines, depression, anxiety) to which women are more prone.

The risk increases with age. At an advanced stage, the arms and trunk can also be affected.


What helps? Movement! In contrast to peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD), symptoms of movement do not occur in restless legs syndrome. The opposite is the case: they disappear or are at least alleviated by standing up and walking around.

There is also a whole lot more to know about restless legs. You can read everything you need to know about this and the best exercises to do at home in this article.


2.3 Back illnesses / back pain

In the spine, all nerves connect to the central nervous system. The nerve fibers "disappear" behind our many vertebrae, converge in the spinal cord of the vertebral canal and lead to the brain.

The spinal canal is narrow: This is why damage to the back is a common cause of sensory disorders in the legs. Typical of this are wear on the vertebrae (spondylosis, spondylarthrosis), narrowing of the canal (spinal canal stenosis), herniated discs (prolapse) and protrusions of the intervertebral discs (protrusion). These back disorders could irritate and damage the spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as cause inflammation.

In our experience, however, all of this is only in the rarest of cases the real cause of your pain and discomfort. It is less the changes in the spine itself that cause symptoms such as vibration  in the legs than muscular-fascial over-tension. Further down in the chapter "Many diseases and often the same cause: overstretched muscles" you will get all the information you need.

  • Sciatica plays a central role in symptoms that arise from the back. The thickest and longest nerve in humans arises from the lower spine and branches a few times in the legs until it ends in our feet. Sciatica therefore causes pain that often radiates to our lower extremities. This can make your legs tingle or numb.
  • The notorious herniated disc should also be emphasized. A prolapse in the lumbar spine is typical for abnormal sensations such as vibration  and numbness up to paralysis of the leg muscles.


2.4 Neurological diseases

Neuropathy describes damage to one or more peripheral nerves. We are talking about mononeuropathies - typical after injuries, with bottleneck syndromes, caused by inflammation or ischemia (poor blood circulation) - or polyneuropathies (PNP).

You should take these seriously as warning signs, because polyneuropathies are caused by other diseases in 80 percent of all cases. The most common triggers:

  • Diabetes mellitus (35 percent),
  •  Alcohol abuse (ten percent) and
  •  An excessive amount of protein in the blood, called paraproteinemia (ten percent).

Other triggers include infections such as HIV (five percent), kidney failure (four percent) and a vitamin B12 deficiency (three and a half percent). We are now taking a closer look at the latter reason.


Vitamin deficiency

Polyneuropathies are more common with age. According to doctors, the speed at which the nerves transmit signals naturally decreases without any disease value behind it.6) However, people in an older age group usually also have a deficiency in folic acid and B vitamins. Every third diabetic suffers from it.

Vitamins B1 and B12 in particular are literally food for the nerves:

  • They are involved in the formation of nerve cells and messenger substances (neurotransmitters) and ensure the transport of nerve signals.
  • The vitamin B12 is essential for our blood formation and that of the red blood cells, which bind oxygen.
  • It also supports the folic acid cycle in our body. Folic acid, which is also one of the B vitamins (vitamin B9), is only activated by vitamin B12. Folic acid is particularly important for the growth and formation of blood, cells and genetic material. Therefore, pregnant women should also strictly pay attention to an adequate intake.

As you can see, B vitamins are crucial for the functioning of our nervous system. In addition to a vibration  sensation, those affected recognize a deficiency particularly in the frequently occurring tiredness, lack of energy or appetite as well as concentration disorders.


Differentiation: PNP, RLS and PAOD

A restless legs syndrome (RLS) can go hand in hand with polyneuropathy (PNP):

“If the symptoms appear in night and you just feel them usually at rest (but also during the day after prolonged immobilization, e.g. a visit to the theater) and improve with movement, a restless legs syndrome must be considered in the differential diagnosis, which is also secondary to one PNP can occur ”, said the neurologist.

  • Ant running, (insects creeping on the skin sensation)
  • Tingle,
  • Feeling of electricity in the body,
  • Feeling of furiness in the affected area,
  • Numbness up to paralysis,
  • The feeling of walking on cotton wool.
  • Burning sensations,
  • Feeling cold,
  • Sensation of constriction or wrapping
  • As well as muscle weakness (e.g. weakness of the dorsiflexion)


So the symptoms are similar to the RLS. But it depends on how they happen:

With polyneuropathy, you feel your symptoms both when moving and when you are resting. In restless legs syndrome, on the other hand, they disappear through movement. And in order to further differentiate PNP and RLS from peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD), it should be noted that PAOD only occurs through movement.

Please note here: This summary in no way replaces a reliable professional diagnosis. So if you suspect you have one of the diseases mentioned above, please let a doctor you trust examine you.


  1. Conventional treatment for vibration  in the legs

In a nutshell

  • Various drugs are used against sensory disorders.
  • Exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle can also help alleviate symptoms.
  • In the case of a vitamin deficiency and the lack of other micronutrients, a high-quality dietary supplement is also useful.

To get the blood circulation going again, to loosen the muscles and free the nerves, you will also find our special exercises for vibration  legs in the next chapter.

Medical treatment for the vibration  sensation in the legs is logically often based on the cause. But instead of precisely combating them, in current practice the therapy tends to be symptomatic.

So how can you differentiate restless legs syndrome from polyneuropathy and vice versa? First, consider the symptoms of polyneuropathy:


3.1 Medicines

Doctors can prescribe anti-epileptic drugs for their patients. These drugs reduce spasmodic and nervous seizures. To do this, they intervene in the central nervous system by inhibiting the transmission of stimuli. In the case of pain, polyneuropathy (nerve damage) and restless legs syndrome (RLS, urge to move in the legs), pregabalin and gabapentin in particular have stood out. Fatigue and dizziness are the most common side effects.


The following medications can also help:


  • With RLS:
  1. L-Dopa works for a short time, for example when those affected want to spend a symptom-free evening. However, there are only a few control studies and the risk is high that the symptoms will become worse after they have been artificially blocked.
  2. Dopamine agonists such as pramipexole or ropinirole influence the transmission of signals to the brain. Side effects include impulse control disorders and increased daytime sleepiness. This limits the fitness to drive.


  • With polyneuropathy:
  1. Antidepressants,
  2. Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), especially in diabetic PNP,
  3. Analgesics as well
  4. Opioids when the above drugs don't work.


3.2 Sport

You have already read it a few times above: In the short term, it helps you, especially with RLS, if you allow your legs to move directly. Getting up and walking around is often enough to tame restless legs and sensory disorders. In the long term, neurologists recommend the following:

  • Light sports (e.g. gymnastics) in the evening,
  • Avoid activating substances like caffeine starting in the afternoon as well
  • A healthy lifestyle (for example, a balanced diet, fitness, social and mental health).

A healthy lifestyle is also important for polyneuropathy patients. Therapy of the symptoms begins with the care of the skin and nails.

  • Extremities should be washed with neutral soap, dried well and treated with a mild cream.
  • the nails ought to be short and tidy

Physiotherapists focus on improved depth sensitivity and the relief of paresthesia. Serve:

  • Self-training of strength and endurance,
  • Balance training,
  • Training on special therapy equipment and vibration plates as well
  • A special training with hedgehog balls, in a gravel bed and on different surfaces.

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Address: 393 University Avenue,Suite 200,Toronto ON MG5 2M2,CANADA


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