Select a Topic
- What Causes Numbness?
- Numbness in the Feet
- Numbness in the Hands
- Causes Numbness During Pregnancy
- Numbness in Children
What is Numbness?
Numbness is an abnormal sensation that can occur anywhere in the body, but is most commonly felt in the hands, feet, arms, or legs. Common symptoms include tingling and numbness in hands and feet, ranging from the harmless numbness you get when your fingers are too cold, to more serious conditions that require immediate medical attention, numbness is a fairly broad term.
Numbness is also often referred to in an emotional context to describe feelings of detachment or the lack of any emotional response, a symptom commonly associated with depression. In a physical context, numbness is generally as a result of damage, blood deprivation or disease of certain nerves in the body.
In addition, the body can also go through bouts of periodic numbness and tingling due to certain health issues such as anxiety or the onset of a migraine. During an anxiety attack breathing becomes shallow and sporadic and breathing in this manner can cause periods of numbness and tingling especially in the fingers and around the mouth. Also, numbness in the extremities, face or tongue is a very common sign that a migraine is well underway.
What Causes Numbness?
Numbness can have all kinds of different causes, as it is a symptom of many different ailments, diseases and conditions. A proper diagnosis is therefore crucial, so that you can treat the cause of the numbness rather than just treat the symptoms of numbness itself which include tingling and numbness in extremities.
It’s also important to take additional precautions as loss of sensation can lead to increased chances of accident and injury.
Possible Causes of Numbness
- Underactive thyroid
- Multiple sclerosis
- Iron Deficiency
- Poor Circulation or Lack of blood supply to the extremities - usually due to plaque buildup in the blood vessels or an inflammatory condition
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Anxiety and Depression
- Complication from Diabetes, often called diabetic neuropathy
- Side-effect of Cancer Radiation Treatment or Chemotherapy
- Nerve Disorders or Damage. Injury to a nerve such as a neck or back injury may cause numbness in various areas of the body, most commonly along the arms or legs.
- Certain Viral or Bacterial Infections
- Post-Partum Swelling
- Bug Bite
- Head Injury
- Side Effect of Certain Drugs or Medication
- High Potassium Levels
- Menstrual Period
- Pressure on the spinal nerves, such as that due to a bad or slipped disk, often present in a type of numbness referred to as sciatica.
- Tooth Infection
- Toxicity in nerves, caused by toxins such as lead, alcohol or tobacco
- A lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamin
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in the body
- A lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamin
- After-effects of some surgical procedures
Numbness in the Hands
Numbness in the hands is a sensation of loss of feelings in the hands, often referred to as "falling asleep". Symptoms of hand numbness are tingling, pins-and-needles, prickling sensations. Sleeping on your hands or holding your hands above your head for a long period of time will cause numbness in the hands.
Commonly hand numbness is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, the compression of the median nerve traveling to the arms, hands, or fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome was named for a ring of fibers, which surround the wrist which the nerves pass.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are tingling, burning, weakness, or sometimes sharp pain. Stretching the hands, massaging and even ice packs can help symptoms of carpal tunnel. Consult a doctor if this pain continues for more than one week.
Numbness in the Feet
Numbness in the feet is a loss of sensation or feeling in the feet, as a result of improper communication between the nerves and the central nervous system. Commonly foot numbness is attributed to a blood shortage in the foot. This occurs when someone is sitting cross-legged for an extended amount of time.
Getting up and walking around through the day can help to halt numbness in the feet. Extreme cases of foot numbness may be caused by nerve damage or even Lyme disease and should not be taken lightly-those with severe symptoms should seek medical attention.
Numbness in the Arms
Like hand numbness the symptoms of numbness in the arms can be attributed to the arms being held above the head, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Other causes of arm numbness are diabetes, exposure to cold and even injury.
Numbness in the arms can be as simple as a pinched nerve; however, when arm numbness is accompanied by tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, and nausea, it’s time to seek treatment.
Tingling feelings in the left arm, shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest are all signs of a heart attack- that is why it is important to note all the symptoms accompanying arm numbness.
Numbness in the Legs
Leg numbness can occur when an individual has been in the same seated or standing position for a long period of time. While most of the time leg numbness is a non-threatening condition it can be quite uncomfortable.
Some sufferers have a low back injury that causes numbness or tingling down the back of your leg. Sciatica is another cause for leg numbness; sciatica usually only affects one side of the body. Sciatica pain may be dull, sharp, burning, or accompanied by shooting pain.
Sciatic pain starts in the buttock and travels down into the back or side of the thigh and/or leg. Symptoms include tingling and numbness, stretching the back and cold packs can help to ease sciatica pain.
Causes of Numbness during Pregnancy
Pregnant women are faced with many body changes and for some, numbness is one of them. Some pregnant women develop carpal tunnel syndrome (the compression of the median nerve traveling to the arms, hands, or fingers) and is believed to be attributed to water retention.
As a baby develops and a woman retains more fluid in the body, body tissues swell and the median nerve compresses and causes carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms of carpal tunnel in pregnant women are the worst in the morning, due to the water accumulated overnight. Carpal tunnel usually corrects itself after the birthing process and the body stops retaining water.
Numbness in Children
There are many reasons why children experience numbness is different parts of their body. Nutritionally, a lack of vitamins or minerals can cause numbness in the lower limbs; this is especially true for vitamin B deficiencies. Along with poor nutrition, sports related injuries can also cause numbness and tingling in the body. Parents should monitor complaints of numbness or tingling that lasts for more than a few minutes in athletic children, this could be a sign of trauma to muscles, tendons or bones.
Childhood anxiety is another culprit of numbness. Many children who feel pressure from peers, school teachers or family members can suffer from anxiety and the physical symptoms such as numbness in the lips, face and extremities are very close to those of an adult.