Monday, April 21, 2014

Numbness and tingling

Table of Contents

Definition

Numbness and tingling are abnormal sensations that can occur anywhere in your body, but are often felt in your fingers, hands, feet, arms, or legs.


Alternative Names

Sensory loss; Paresthesias; Tingling and numbness; Loss of sensation


Considerations


Common Causes

There are many possible causes:

  • Remaining in the same seated or standing position for a long time
  • Injury to a nerve -- for example, a neck injury may cause you to feel numbness anywhere along your arm or hand, while a low back injury can cause numbness or tingling down the back of your leg
  • Pressure on the spinal nerves, such as from a herniated disk
  • Pressure on peripheral nerves from enlarged blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue, or infection
  • Shingles or herpes zoster infection
  • Lack of blood supply to an area -- for example, cholesterol (plaque) build up from atherosclerosis in the legs can cause pain, numbness, and tingling while walking (this is called vascular claudication); frostbite can also reduce blood supply and lead to numbness
  • Other medical conditions, including:
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on a nerve at the wrist)
    • Diabetes
    • Migraines
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Seizures
    • Stroke
    • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a "mini-stroke"
    • Underactive thyroid
    • Raynaud's phenomenon
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in your body
  • A lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamin
  • Use of certain medications
  • Toxic nerve damage due to lead, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Radiation therapy


Review Date: 04/21/2009
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)