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Numbness in Hands and Feet

Dhanya Joy Jan 22, 2019
Numbness in hands and feet may be caused due to a number of reasons which may be both mild and severe in nature. This is considered as an important symptom of certain disorders, especially neurological disorders. Let us explain its causes in detail.
Peripheral neuropathy, a condition caused due to nerve damage, often leads to pain along with numbness in hands and feet. Causes such as alcoholism, uncontrolled diabetes may lead to this. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to eliminate these ailments to a certain extent.
You must have often noticed a sensation in your hands and feet that feels like needle pricks (Paresthesia). Numbness can be experienced when pressure is applied to your hands or feet, or when they remain in the same position for a long time.
Numbness and tingling that lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes is considered to be absolutely normal. However, numbness that is extreme and lasts for several hours is a serious concern and should not be ignored. This kind of numbness may be caused due to various factors, and an appropriate diagnosis is essential for its proper treatment.

Causes

Numb hands and feet can be caused due to various reasons ranging from nutritional deficiency to a serious illness. A condition leading to peripheral neuropathy is also commonly seen. Listed here are a few of its most common causes.

Diabetes

Numbness in hands and feet is an important symptom of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. The high blood sugar levels of diabetics causes the nervous system to malfunction and eventually leads to its damage.
Mayo Clinic states that almost 50 percent of all the people with diabetes develop some form of neuropathy. It is essential to keep the blood sugar levels under control to avoid serious complications, such as nerve damage.

Anxiety and Migraine

Two of the most common causes of numbness in feet and hands are: an anxiety attack or an impending migraine. Anxiety in a person leads to certain physiological changes like an increased heart rate and shallow breathing, as well as numbness. Similarly, the onset of a migraine is usually accompanied by numbness and heaviness in the hands, feet, neck and mouth.

Vitamin Deficiency

Deficiency of essential vitamins like vitamin B1, B6, B12, vitamin E, and niacin may prove to be harmful, especially for nerve health. Vitamin deficiency can cause numbness along with cold hands and feet, fatigue, muscle weakness, and loss of sensation.
It is, therefore, extremely necessary to consume a diet that provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep these symptoms at bay.

Multiple Sclerosis

Numbness, weakness, and tingling in limbs is an important symptom of multiple sclerosis, especially during its initial stages. Multiple sclerosis is characterized by the gradual loss of the myelin sheath which is a protective covering of the nerve cells. This leads to nerve damage, also known as neurodegeneration, which is irreversible.

Stroke

A stroke is caused by the temporary loss of blood supply to the brain, thereby, interrupting brain function. Numbness on either side of the body may be a sign that you are suffering from a stroke, in which case, you may find it difficult to raise both your arms together. Seek immediate medical assistance in this scenario.

Raynaud's Syndrome

Raynaud's syndrome is a disorder in which blood vessel spasms are experienced either due to a very low temperature or due to a sudden, strong emotional outburst. The spasms block or restrict the blood flow to areas such as the tip of the nose, ears, fingers, and feet which leads to numbness in these areas.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by an injury to the nerves around the wrist. Numbness in the fingers of the hands, except for the little finger, is one of the most important signs of this problem.

Angina

Angina is a disorder characterized by reduced oxygen supply to the heart due to thickening of the arteries. Numbness in the left side accompanied by pain is an important symptom of this disorder.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease is a disorder caused due to the accumulation of plaque (a fatty substance) in the arteries. This accumulation leads to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries which restricts the flow of blood. Numbness in fingers, arms, and feet along with cold hands and feet are important symptoms of this disease.

Other Causes

There are several other causes that can lead to a numbing sensation in the hands and feet. Some of these include: insect and animal bites, side effect of certain forms of medication such as chemotherapy drugs, nerve damage brought on by tobacco, alcohol, lead, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and syphilis, nerve compression or injury and more.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Depending upon the severity of the symptoms and your medical history--if you have conditions such as diabetes, heart problems--the medications that you take, the lifestyle that you follow, etc., your doctor may suggest blood tests and imaging tests to diagnose the cause, depending on which the treatment would follow.
For example, if the cause behind these symptoms is diabetes, your doctor would advise you to take effective measures to control your blood sugar levels by exercising and eating right.
If you are overweight, try to get into the right weight zone. Even while exercising, it is important to ensure that you are maintaining the right posture to avoid injuries, which may also cause numbness in the body.
A majority of causes may be prevented through changes in lifestyle. Replacing soda with water, using olive oil instead of butter, taking the stairs instead of the lift, switching coffee with green tea and spending time with friends in the gym instead of the bar, may eliminate chronic ailments like diabetes, heart problems, obesity and other health problems.
However, it has to be noted that in certain conditions like multiple sclerosis, certain amount of numbness and loss of sensation is experienced all the time and might not be treatable. Therefore, if the numbness is constant, then it needs to be checked by a specialist.
In minor cases, one can always try some home remedies such as stretching and massaging the area. Massaging the area, either with oil or by simply applying pressure with fingers increases the blood flow and could eliminate numbness, but not when the underlying cause is related to a serious health problem. Your first step should always be to consult a doctor.
Disclaimer: This is solely meant for educating the reader only. It does not intend to be considered as a replacement for an expert medical advise.