My leg gets numb!

After 30 min of playing football my left leg goes dead to my toes.  It’s fine normally and I know that my right leg is slightly shorter than the left one. I am not sure what to do or who to see.  Will a foot orthotic help?  

I think you are describing the symptoms of nerve entrapment and the associated loss in sensation – parasthesia.
Spine alignment It is really important that we quickly assess your leg length, as improper spine alignment will cause pressure on the nerves exiting the spine and create all sorts of nasty sensations …. that’s the first thing to rule out.  Id recommend you also investigate this with your GP as an MRI of your back will give great insight as to what is going on.  If you can’t arrange this yourself we can help arrange a private MRI.
Tight PiriformisThere may also be another explanation for your numbness, try searching on google for ‘piriformis syndrome‘, this causes painful muscular entrapment of the big nerve that supplies the back of your leg and can give you numb feet.  The pain is known as sciatica and it is thought that it typically affects about 50% of the population whose sciatic nerve is entwined through their piriformis muscle.  When the muscle is allowed to become too tight it causes pressure on the nerve.  As a keen footballer, it would be typical for your gluteus muscles and hamstrings to be really tight and trigger nerve pain after extreme bursts of activity.  Releasing your Piriformis and glut med muscles is likely to have a significant and quick effect on your leg pain.  Try glut med stretching after sport and observe any changes in your leg pain.
If it was just your toes that gets numb then it would be more likely to be ‘tarsal tunnel syndrome‘ (more interesting googling for you), affecting mainly your 1st 3 toes.  This is fairly straightforward to treat with foot orthotics and conditioning/flexibility exercises for your lower leg.
Mortons Neuroma If it were just affecting your smaller toes it could be a Mortons Neuroma or Mortons metatarsalgia which is a bruising of the delicate plumbing between your metatarsals (long fore-foot bones). This is often simply relieved by not wearing shoes or ditching slim fashion styles – football boots are pretty awful for this as they are so tight across the joints of your feet.  Chronic mortons Neuroma need prescription orthotic insoles, a really careful shoe choice, foot mobilisation to help control it.
Leg Length Discrepancy I will need to see you and treat your leg length and assess your foot posture very soon but the most important thing is to see a specialist soon regarding your spine alignment and the flexibility of your bum muscles.
Weak Buttocks – Its worth noting that having an unstable foot, knee and hip complex effectively shortens your leg by about 10-15mm, so your feeling of a short leg may just be the symptom of weakness in your buttocks (sorry) – again this is another reason why weak hip muscles can trigger pirifomis syndrome and peripheral sciatica.
Either way we need to fix this quickly
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