Numbness of hands and feet
It is not uncommon to have tingling in the hands and feet on occasion. However, if the tingling feeling persists or happens regularly, it's worth discussing it with your doctor and learning more about the probable reasons.
The human nervous system
The human body has two main parts to its nervous system:
- The central nervous system (CNS), meaning your brain and spinal cord, and
- The peripheral nervous system (PNS), which links the brain and spinal cord to the other parts of your body, like the organs, skin, and muscles.
Peripheral neuropathy indicates that the peripheral system has been damaged and that messages from the CNS to locations in the PNS are not operating properly. Too much 'information' (pain, heat, and cold sensations) or too little information (numbness) might ensue.
Common Causes of Tingling in the Hands and Feet
B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, are essential for normal nerve function. So it's not surprising that a lack of these essential nutrients might cause tingling in your hands and feet—an early warning sign of impending nerve injury.
If you have a history of binge drinking, you may be predisposed to alcoholic neuropathy. Heavy alcohol use might impair your body's ability to absorb B vitamins and other essential minerals, potentially leading to vitamin shortages.
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a thyroid disorder characterized by low thyroid hormone levels. Because the thyroid gland regulates many of the body's vital functions (such as metabolism), an underactive thyroid can produce a variety of symptoms, including tingling in the hands and feet or other regions of the body. Numbness or a painful "pins-and-needles" feeling are other possibilities Weight gain, lethargy, cold sensitivity, hair loss, depression, and/or other symptoms may occur in certain hypothyroid patients.
Compression neuropathy is caused by pressure on a nerve anywhere along its route. Compression neuropathy can induce weak or twitchy muscles in addition to numbness. The pressure might originate from a variety of sources. It might happen after an injury because of blood or edema. A misplaced or angled fracture might cause the nerve to be stretched. In a confined environment, the tendon lining might thicken, causing nerve pressure to rise.
Fascia is a tissue that lies underneath the fat layer and protects muscles and tendons. A nerve can be compressed by a thicker fascia or tendon edge. Pressure can also be caused by an improperly placed muscle. Nerve compression can occur as a result of soft tissue tumors or ganglion cysts.
Types of nerve compression include:
Compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist (Guyon Syndrome)
This results in numbness and tingling on the pinky finger side of the hand. The back of the hand is normally normal. Hand and grip weakness might occur in severe situations. When attempting to separate the fingers, the weakness is most obvious. The capacity to bend the ring and tiny fingers is still present.
- Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome).
This illness is distinguished by the presence of numbness on the back of the hand on the pinky side in addition to the symptoms of Guyon Syndrome. There may also be discomfort on the inside of the elbow. Hand and grip weakness might occur in severe situations. The weakness manifests itself while attempting to split the fingers, bend the ring and tiny fingertips, or bend the wrist.
2. Radial nerve compression in the forearm or wrist
Compression of the radial nerve on either side of the forearm is possible. Radial tunnel syndrome is caused by proximal compression of the motor branch known as the posterior interosseous nerve. This ailment might induce achiness or nonspecific soreness in the forearm's backside. Straightening the wrist or finger may aggravate it. Diagnosis can be difficult since nerve conduction testing and imaging may be normal.
When the radial nerve branch is compressed, it usually causes primarily sensory problems. This nerve can be harmed by incisions, the introduction of an IV for medicine or fluids, handcuffs, or during radial bone surgery.
3. Median nerve compression at the wrist (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
The thumb, index, and middle fingers become numb and tingly as a result of this. Other fingers, and perhaps the entire hand, might become numb at times. However, when examined explicitly, the tiny finger should exhibit normal sensation. In severe situations, the thumb may weaken and pull away from the hand. Finger bending strength is usually considered normal. Symptoms are frequently severe at night. They can also develop as a result of the wrist being bent in a posture for an extended period of time.
4. Median nerve compression at the elbow
This illness causes numbness in the fingers that is comparable to carpal tunnel syndrome. There is numbness in the palm around the thumb that is not present in carpal tunnel syndrome. There is occasionally weakness while bending the index and middle fingers, as well as weakness when bending the tip of the thumb.
5. Pressure on nerves in the neck
Arthritis, illnesses, infections, tumors, blood vessel anomalies, and other spinal cord problems can all cause this. Symptoms include numbness, as well as weak muscles and impaired reflexes in the arm and forearm (sometimes even the legs). Radiating arm pain is more likely when there is pressure on nerves in the neck.
A nerve may experience pressure in more than one location at times. This is known as "double crush." To relieve nerve pressure, surgery may be required.
Diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy, a disorder that affects up to one in every two diabetics. Diabetic neuropathy destroys the nerves in your hands and feet, and tingling is frequently the first symptom. So, if you have diabetes and experience tingling (or numbness or pain), contact your healthcare practitioner and/or care team right once; they may offer next actions you may take to delay the advancement of diabetic neuropathy.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon neurological illness. Your immune system targets healthy nerves if you have GBS. Your immune system destroys the protective covering of your nerves over time, causing your nerves to have difficulty delivering and receiving messages.
People suffering with Guillain-Barré syndrome frequently experience weakness, numbness, or tingling. These symptoms begin in the hands and feet but can quickly spread if not treated.
Researchers aren't sure what causes Guillain-Barré syndrome, although it usually occurs after an illness such as bronchitis or stomach flu. So, if you have tingling sensations after being ill, get medical attention straight once.
Peripheral neuropathy affects the very ends of the nerves in the hands and feet. There may or may not be pain with this syndrome, and the numbness is frequently continuous. Diabetes, alcoholism, and advanced age are among well-known causes of neuropathy. Metal and industrial chemical poisoning are also plausible causes. The numbness usually spreads up from the toes to the legs in a "stocking-glove" pattern. When the numbness reaches the mid-calf, the fingers and hands get affected. It can occur on both sides of the body and frequently affects all nerves leading to the foot or hand in a similar manner.
This illness affects millions of Americans and can linger for years or permanently. Fibromyalgia patients are more likely than others to develop carpal tunnel syndrome and may require surgical therapy to relieve pressure in the carpal tunnel. People suffering from this disorder have continuous pain, often in several locations of the body, as well as exhaustion, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, depression, sleep problems, and other nonspecific symptoms.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
This is another another illness that can produce numbness in the hands. It has certain symptoms with fibromyalgia, notably numb hands and forearms, as well as aches and pains. Although symptoms may be felt in the hands, the muscles that are generating the issues are generally those in the neck and shoulder region. The most common symptom is stiffness, which may be accompanied by recurrent headaches. There is no hand surgery available to repair or improve symptoms associated with this illness.
Certain medicines, such as cancer therapy drugs, have been linked to hand tingling and numbness. Some of them induce transient numbness that goes away once the chemotherapy is finished. Others can result in lifelong numbness.
Other causes of numbness in hands may include:
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B1, B6, or B12 deficiency
- Multiple sclerosis
- Disorders of the brain and spinal cord
Treatment of Numbness of hands and feet
The pattern of symptoms can aid in determining if the reason is nerve pressure, a disease, drugs, or another illness. A comprehensive history and physical exam are essential for narrowing down or making a diagnosis for many of these illnesses. To assist confirm a diagnosis, further tests such as an x-ray, an MRI, nerve testing (such as EMG), ultrasound, blood tests, or a spinal tap may be performed.
Once you've been diagnosed, your hand surgeon can provide specific treatment suggestions. Other experts, such as a neurologist, rheumatologist, pain management specialist, or other health care practitioner, may also be recommended to you. Hand treatment may be beneficial when there is weakness or stiffness. Your hand therapist will demonstrate some strengthening exercises that will be beneficial to you. Wrist or elbow braces can frequently alleviate positional numbness. Steroid injections can be used to treat certain compression neuropathies (also known as a cortisone shot).
When non-operative therapy has been exhausted, surgical decompression may be considered. The period of pressure, the degree of the pressure, and other patient characteristics all influence symptom recovery. Some issues can be completely resolved. Other instances, therapy may not completely eliminate numbness or paralysis. Nerve damage can be permanent in some cases. If medical therapy prevents the disease from worsening, that might be regarded a beneficial advantage. Find a hand surgeon as soon as your symptoms appear to lessen the possibility of lasting numbness, tingling, or weakening.
Seeking medical care
A tingling feeling in the feet and hands might be a sign of a number of various medical issues. A physical examination may be performed by your healthcare professional to determine a diagnosis. This might include testing your reflexes or determining the sensitivity of your hands and feet. Laboratory tests to examine nutritional status, thyroid hormones, or other elements of your body's health may also be recommended by your clinician.
Following a diagnosis, your healthcare professional may propose a treatment plan. Prescription drugs are typically required to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, although vitamin deficiencies can occasionally be remedied with over-the-counter supplements or dietary adjustments. Physical treatment may be recommended in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome or other ailments.
Prevention of Numbness of Feet and Hands
To face numbness of the extremities and related problems as seldom as possible, you must check the status of the neurological and circulatory systems and lead a healthy lifestyle. Smoking and drinking are highly harmful to blood supply. Obesity, lack of physical exercise, and an imbalanced diet heavy in salt and carbs can all have harmful implications. On the other hand, a diet high in vegetables, fruits, herbs, and legumes will be a fantastic preventative strategy. Also, remember to drink plenty of fluids and avoid being in one position for too long.
If you have numbness in your hands and feet for no apparent cause, consult a doctor right once. The problem will most likely have a straightforward remedy (for example, a course of vitamins). Still, by calling a doctor as soon as possible, you may be able to begin treating a potentially fatal condition at an early stage. Take care of your health and avoid self-medicating.
Common questions about tingling in the hands and feet
What causes tingling in the hands and feet?
Among other possible causes, a tingling or prickling sensation in the hands and feet can result from:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- What is numbness a symptom of?
The most prevalent cause of numbness in the arms and legs is heart and vascular illness, which leads to circulation problems. With inadequate blood flow, cellular nourishment deteriorates and limb stagnation ensues.
2. When should I worry about hand and feet numbness?
Inaction can have serious repercussions, such as loss of ambulation and incapacity. It is critical not to waste time - the earlier the doctor visit, the gentler the corrective procedures will be and the greater the possibilities of a successful conclusion.
3. Is numbness a serious problem?
If the limbs become numb, this is considered a neurological symptom and may suggest compression, inflammation, or injury to the sensitive nerves. Numbness is one of the most dangerous signs of sickness.
4. Can high blood pressure cause numbness in the legs?
Hypertension causes functional and organic lesions in the body's most vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system. Numbness and swelling of the legs may occur when blood pressure rises.
5. What doctor should I see for numbness in hands and legs?
Because numbness is a neurological symptom, you should consult a neurologist if you experience it.
How can I stop the tingling in my hands and feet?
If your symptoms are caused by a chronic health problem, you may require medication, surgery, and/or a change in your lifestyle. However, therapy will be determined by the underlying cause of your symptoms, so it's important to contact with your healthcare professional to find out what they prescribe for you.
Everyone has numbness in their feet and hands from time to time. This phenomena can occasionally be an indication of a hazardous sickness. If you've experienced numbness in your hands and feet more than once, it's possible that it's not a coincidence. Numbness can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which are not as small as they appear at first look.