What is Knee Numbness?
Knee numbness is caused by a problem in the nervous system and is accompanied by other symptoms such as tingling, pain, swelling, and weakness of the leg.
Knee numbness is associated with numerous causes from acute injury to a chronic condition.
Causes of Knee Numbness
For initiating movement, there are various nerves present in the body. Femoral nerve damage can lead to knee numbness.
Outside Nerve Compression: Sometimes due to an outside force the nerve gets compressed and lead to numbness. Wearing tight clothing, knee braces or compression hose can be the possible causes.
Wearing tight clothing cuts off the circulation or presses the cutaneous nerve, resulting in numbness.
Temporary knee numbness can also result due to the position of the leg or on crossing the leg for long.
- Injury: Injury behind the knee or to the kneecap or leg can cause knee numbness. A study also shows that people if accidentally burn the front or the back of the knee while applying the heating pads or hot water bottles can experience knee numbness.(1)
- Arthritis: Arthritis leads to inflammation and swelling of the joint. The knee is mostly affected by this condition as they are subjected to a lot of wear and tear from the daily activities. Few suffering from arthritis experience altered sensory perception, which in addition to pain causes numbness and tingling.
- Diabetic Neuropathy: Long term diabetes can affect the nerve (diabetic neuropathy). Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves of the feet and legs. Diabetic neuropathy starts from the feet and includes symptoms such as numbness, weakness, and pain. In few, the numbness might extend to the knee as well.
- Fibromyalgia: It is a condition which can lead to muscle pain and fatigue. It does not damage the joint but can cause symptoms such as muscle pain and numbness.
- Radiculitis: Inflammation of one or more nerves exiting the spinal column is known as radiculitis. It is caused due to narrow spinal canal, arthritis or out of place spinal disc. Since these nerves run down to the leg as well, inflammation in the back can cause tingling and numbness in the knee too.
- Knee Surgery: People who undergo knee replacement surgery might experience knee numbness. Accidental injury can result in the injury to the nerves around the knee cap. Research shows most of the people undergone knee surgery experience numbness in the outer portion of the knee.(2)
- Brain Damage Or Stroke: Knee numbness can also occur due to brain damage. A stroke can result in loss of sensation throughout the one side of the body including the knee.
Treatment Option of Knee Numbness
The treatment totally depends on the underlying cause. Conservative methods are adopted by the doctor before going ahead with any invasive procedures.
Few at-home tips can help reduce knee numbness such as:
- Taking over the counter prescriptions such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Putting an ice-pack on the knee for 10 minutes.
- Elevation of the leg to promote the blood flow and reduce swelling
- Resting the knee if swelling is visible.
Medicines might be prescribed by the doctor to improve the nerve transmission in people with fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy such as corticosteroids and antidepressants to reduce pain in those with fibromyalgia.
If injury or compression is the reasons for nerve compression a doctor might recommend surgery. Surgery can help remove the damaged disk material or the bone pressing the nerves.
The patient is advised to avoid sitting crossed legs for a long period of time and instead told to keep feet flat on the floor or elevate them on a chair or bench. If in a habit of wearing tight clothing, such as leggings, tight pants, stocking, it should be avoided.
Diabetic should maintain their blood sugar level which can reduce the risk of related nerve damage.
Knee numbness can occur due to a simple reason such as wearing tight clothing to complex ones such as medical condition or injury. Keep your doctor informed if the numbness affects mobility. Earlier the doctor diagnoses the condition better can be the result of the treatment.