There are many reasons why you may have numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Most often, tingling is caused by pressure on a nerve or blood vessel. This can happen when you sit or sleep in an awkward position, resulting in what is commonly known as “pins and needles.” However, numbness and tingling can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as diabetes, kidney failure, vitamin deficiency, or an autoimmune disease.
If you experience numbness and tingling that persist for days, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness, loss of sensation, or pain, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
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1. Poor circulation
If you’re experiencing numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, it could be a sign of poor circulation. When circulation is poor, it means that blood isn’t flowing as well as it should to these extremities. This can happen for a number of reasons, including obesity, smoking, and diabetes. Other symptoms of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, fatigue, and dizziness. If you think you might have poor circulation, it’s important to see a doctor so they can properly diagnose and treat the problem. Left untreated, poor circulation can lead to more serious health problems like heart disease.
2. Pinched nerve
A pinched nerve can cause numbness and tingling in your hands or feet. This happens when the nerve is compressed or irritated. The most common cause of a pinched nerve is a herniated disc in the spine. Other causes include bone spurs, spinal stenosis, and arthritis.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve include:
- Limited movement
Treatment for a pinched nerve includes:
- Pain relief medication
- Physical therapy
3. Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness and tingling in the fingers and hands. It happens when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed. People who make repetitive motions with their hands, such as typing, are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Pain in the wrist and hand
- Weakness in the hand
- A feeling of pins and needles in the fingers
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome includes:
- Wearing a splint or brace
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- Doing exercises
- Getting steroid injections
- Undergoing surgery
4. Raynaud’s disease
Raynaud’s disease is a condition that causes the blood vessels in the fingers and toes to narrow. This can happen in response to cold temperatures or stress. When the blood vessels narrow, the hands and feet can become numb and tingly.
Other symptoms of Raynaud’s disease include:
- Cold fingers
- White or blue fingertips
Raynaud’s disease is more common in women and people who live in colder climates. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as beta-blockers. If you have Raynaud’s disease, your doctor may recommend you take steps to protect your hands and feet from the cold.
Diabetes is a condition that causes high blood sugar levels. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the nerves, which can lead to numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. This is known as diabetic neuropathy.
Other symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Slow healing cuts
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
Treatments for diabetes include:
- Monitoring your blood sugar
- Insulin therapy
- Diabetes medicines
- Dietary changes
- Managing stress
- Getting physical activity
6. Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is essential for the nervous system, and its deficiency can lead to a pins and needles sensation in your hands or feet. This is because vitamin B12 plays an important role in nerve conduction and damage. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Disturbed vision.
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
Vegans and vegetarians are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because the vitamin is found mainly in animal products. However, people who don’t eat meat or poultry can get enough vitamin B12 by taking supplements or eating foods that are fortified with the vitamin.
7. Vitamin E deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency can cause pins and needles in the fingers and toes. This is because vitamin E is important for nerve function. When there is not enough vitamin E in the body, the nerves can become damaged, and this can lead to tingling or numbness in the extremities. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables, can help to prevent this deficiency.
Drinking alcohol excessively can damage the peripheral nerves and lead to alcoholic neuropathy. This condition can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in your hands or feet. If you’re a heavy drinker, consider cutting back on your alcohol consumption to see if your tingling symptoms improve.
The use of certain medications can cause numbness and tingling. These include chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and diabetes medication. Other medications that can cause numbness and tingling include:
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Blood pressure drugs (such as amiodarone)
- Antidepressants (like amitriptyline)
- Anti-infection drugs (such as metronidazole)
If you are taking any medications and begin to experience numbness or tingling, be sure to speak with your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dose or switch you to a different medication that doesn’t cause these symptoms.
Anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including through physical symptoms like tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. This is because anxiety can cause your body to go into fight-or-flight mode, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re experiencing tingling or numbness that seems to be linked to anxiety, you may want to talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your anxiety.
Pregnancy can certainly cause several changes in your body, some of which can lead to tingling in your hands and feet. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby can put pressure on the nerves in your pelvis and legs, which can cause pins and needles in your extremities. Besides, pregnancy can also lead to fluid retention, which can, in turn, cause swelling and tingling in your hands and feet.
Additionally, carpal tunnel syndrome is also a common condition that pregnant women experience due to the added pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. This can cause tingling, numbness, and pain in the hand and fingers. If you experience any tingling or numbness during pregnancy, be sure to mention it to your OB-GYN so they can rule out any other potential causes.
12. Multiple sclerosis
If you have multiple sclerosis, you may experience numbness or tingling, especially in your extremities (arms and legs). This symptom is caused by damage to the nerves in your body. The numbness or tingling may be mild at first, but it can become severe over time. You may also have other symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, and problems with your vision. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
There are many infections that may cause numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Some of the more common infections include:
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
- Viral meningitis
- Lyme disease
- Zika virus
- Hepatitis B and C
- Hansen’s disease (leprosy)
If you have any of these infections, it is important to see a doctor right away. Treatment for these infections can vary, but it is often necessary to take medication or get injections.
14. Kidney failure
One of the early signs of kidney failure is pins and needles sensations in your extremities (hands and feet). This happens because your kidneys are not filtering out waste products properly, and these waste products build up in your blood and cause nerve damage. Other symptoms of kidney failure include:
- nausea and vomiting
- difficulty breathing
- decreased urination
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away so that they can run some tests and determine if your kidneys are failing. Early diagnosis is key to treatment and managing kidney failure.
15. Autoimmune diseases
Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are a few of the autoimmune diseases that can cause tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. This is caused by damage to the nerves from the immune system attacking them. Treatment focuses on managing the underlying autoimmune disease.
Learn More: What are Autoimmune Diseases?
16. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease happens when there’s a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to your limbs. This can cause symptoms like cramping, pain, and numbness in your legs or feet. Other symptoms of PAD include:
- cramps in your legs or hips when you walk or exercise
- pain in your legs or hips when you rest
- sores on your legs or feet that won’t heal
- changes in the color of your legs
- coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared to the other side
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor so they can diagnose and treat the condition. Treatment for PAD usually involves lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and exercising more, and medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to improve blood flow to the affected limbs.
When should I worry about tingling in my hands and feet?
If you have tingling or numbness in your hands and feet that come on suddenly and are accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or unable to move your arm or leg, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. These may be signs of a heart attack or stroke.
What doctor should I see for numbness and tingling?
If you have ongoing problems with numbness and tingling, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. He or she can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment. Depending on the underlying cause, you may need to see a specialist, such as a neurologist or an orthopedist.