Numbness and tingling are unusual sensations that can happen throughout your body, though they are typically felt in your hands and feet. At times, tingling and numbness can be short-lived and nonthreatening, such as with continuous nerve pressure from crossing your legs for a prolong period. This feeling, commonly known as “pins and needles”, is fairly painless and goes away quickly. However, there are more severe cases that can be chronic and episodic. Some medical conditions that are associated with numbness and tingling include:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Underactive Thyroid
Causes of Numbness and Tingling in Hands or Feet
One of the most typical medical causes associated with numbness and tingling of the heads and feet is diabetes. Around 30 per cent of all peripheral neuropathy cases have diabetes. An average of two-thirds of diabetes patients have some form of nerve damage, ranging from mild to severe cases. In many circumstances, symptoms such as numbness or tingling present an early sign of diabetes. Other causes of numbness and tingling in hands or feet include:
- Nerve Entrapment Syndromes
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Systemic Diseases
Nerve entrapment syndromes occur when a nerve is trapped or pinched, such as with radial nerve palsy, peroneal nerve palsy, ulnar nerve palsy and carpal tunnel syndrome. These symptoms are typically caused by recurring activities over a period of time, such as carrying a heavy bag on your shoulder, typing or playing a piano. Symptoms can begin with numbness and intensify into severe pain, depending on the trapped nerve. Some cases of trapped nerves can cause paralysis.
Vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin E and B-complex vitamins, can cause peripheral neuropathy. These vitamins are essential for our body’s to keep healthy nerves and deficiencies can cause tingling and numbness to hands or feet. Other deficiencies can include vitamins A and D, as well as minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Blood tests are often required to find out if vitamin deficiencies are the problem.
Systemic diseases of the liver, kidney, tumors, cardiovascular system and connective tissues are also associated with tingling and numbness. An example of systemic disease is when arm numbness occurs due to the lack of oxygen reaching the heart. In cases such as this, numbness is linked with a potentially life threatening disease.
Many alcoholics develop peripheral neuropathy due to the lack of thiamine and vitamins in their diet. Nerve damage due to chronic alcoholism is also common with alcoholics and is known as alcoholic neuropathy.
Emotional causes are also responsible for numbness and tingling of hands and feet. Anxiety and stress can cause people to hyperventilate or breath at a usually fast pace. Even if fast breathing only lasts a few minutes, it can lead to tingling in hands and feet and even fainting. Numbness can also lead to migraines, in combination with heavy feelings in the hands, feet and mouth area.
Other less likely causes of numbness and tingling include syphilis, HIV/AIDS and autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome and Guillain-Barres syndrome.