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Numbness and tingling



Central nervous system
Central nervous system


Numbness and tingling

Definition:

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


Alternative Names:
Sensory loss; Paresthesias; Tingling and numbness; Loss of sensation
Common Causes:


There are many possible causes:

  • Remaining in the same seated or standing position for a long time.
  • Injuring a nerve supplying the body part where you feel the sensation. If you have a neck injury, for example, you may feel the sensation anywhere along your arm or hand. Similarly, a low back injury can cause sciatica -- a sensation of numbness or tingling down the back of your leg.
  • Lack of blood supply to the area. For example, plaque buildup from atherosclerosis in the legs can cause pain, numbness, and tingling while walking. (This is called claudication.)
  • Pressure on the spinal nerves, as from a herniated disk.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. This can cause numbness or tingling in your wrist, fingers, hand, or forearm.
  • Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, underactive thyroid, multiple sclerosis, seizures, or migraine headaches.
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in your body.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke
  • Certain medications.
  • Toxic action on nerves, such as that from lead, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • Radiation therapy.

References:

Viera AJ. Management of carpal tunnel syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003; 68(2): 265-272.

Smeal WL, Tyburski M, Alleva J, Prather H, Hunt D. Conservative management of low back pain, part I. Discogenic/radicular pain. Dis Mon. 2004; 50(12): 636-669.



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