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Numbness and tingling

Central nervous system

Definition

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

Alternative Names

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

Causes

There are many possible causes of numbness and tingling, including:

Numbness and tingling can be caused by other medical conditions, including:

Home Care

Your health care provider should find and treat the cause of your numbness or tingling. Treating the condition may make the symptoms go away or stop them from getting worse. For example, if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or low back pain, your doctor may recommend certain exercises.

If you have diabetes, your doctor will discuss ways to control your blood sugar levels.

Low levels of vitamins will be treated with vitamin supplements.

Medicines that cause numbness or tingling may need to be switched or changed. DO NOT change or stop taking any of your medicines or take large doses of any vitamins or supplements until you have talked with your provider.

Because numbness can cause a decrease in feeling, you may be more likely to accidentally injure a numb hand or foot. Take care to protect the area from cuts, bumps, bruises, burns, or other injuries.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to a hospital or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if:

Call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination, carefully checking your nervous system.

Medical history questions may include:

Your provider may also ask you questions to determine your risk for stroke, thyroid disease, or diabetes, as well as questions about your work habits and medicines.

Blood tests may include:

Imaging tests may include:

Other tests that may be done include:

References

Bunney BE, Gallagher JE. Peripheral nerve disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 107.

Hurley RW, Henriquez OH, Wu CL. Neuropathic pain syndromes. In: Benzon HT, Rathmell JP, Wu CL, Turk DC, Argoff CE, Hurley RW, eds. Practical Management of Pain. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 24.

Katirji B, Koontz D. Disorders of peripheral nerves. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 76.

Perron AD, Huff JS. Spinal cord disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 106.

Stettler BA. Brain and cranial nerve disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 105.

Tran TP, Muelleman RL. Allergy, hypersensitivity, angioedema, and anaphylaxis. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 119.


Review Date: 6/1/2015
Reviewed By: Daniel Kantor, MD, Kantor Neurology, Coconut Creek, FL and Immediate Past President of the Florida Society of Neurology (FSN). Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.