Numbness in Hands and Feet: Basics 20 Symptoms and Causes

Numbness in Hands and Feet

The numbness in hands and feet or both can be a very common symptom, but at the same time, it is bothersome. The numbness can be benign and temporary. It can result from pressure on nerves when your arm is crooked under your head as you fall asleep. Also, it could be pressure on nerves when you cross your legs too long. In these cases, the pins and needles effect (this is usually painless) is soon relieved by removing the pressure that caused it. But, there are many cases when the numbness in the hands, feet or both, can be severe, episodic, or chronic. Also, it can accompany other symptoms, such as muscle wasting, pain, numbness, and itching.

Numbness in Hands and Feet
Numbness in Hands and Feet

Numbness in Hands and Feet :


There can be some symptoms that can accompany numbness, such as

  • Sudden change in the vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
  • Bluish or cold skin in the same or nearby area
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • A rash, especially a rash that occurs in a band on one side of the torso
  • Numbness in the same or nearby area
  • Pain in the same or nearby area

There are some cases in which the numbness in the hands and legs can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition and in these cases, you should seek emergency help. Some symptoms that can indicate a life-threatening condition in a combination with Numbness in hands and feet include:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Changes in levels of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out of unresponsiveness
  • Uncontrollable movement
  • A change in mental statuses or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations, or delusions
  • A sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
  • Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
  • Paresthesia following a head, neck, or back injury
  • Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
  • Paralysis
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body

Your doctor will make a physical exam and take an extensive medical history addressing your symptoms and work environment, so he or she will know about the cause for numbness in your hands and feet. Also, your doctor will see your toxic exposure, your risk of HIV or other infectious diseases, and the family history of neurological disease.


The most common cause for peripheral neuropathy is diabetes and it is taking 30% of cases [1]. In diabetic neuropathy, numbness and other symptoms, usually first develop in both feet and they go up the legs, followed by numbness and other symptoms, which can affect both hands and go up the arms. It is noticed that about two–thirds of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage. There are many cases in which these symptoms are the first signs of diabetes. In another 30% of the peripheral neuropathy cases have unknown causes. The remaining 40% can have different causes, such as

  • Infections (like herpes simplex, Epstein – Barr, HIV/AIDS, shingles, Lyme disease, and cytomegalovirus)
  • Toxins (these include heavy metals, such as thallium, mercury, arsenic, lead, and some environmental chemicals) [2,6]
  • Injury (it is often related to trauma, nerves can be compressed, crushed, or damaged, which is resulting in nerve pain) [3]
  • Inherited disorders (they include a group that may have sensory and motor symptoms and the most known is Charcot – Marie – Tooth disease)
  • Autoimmune diseases (they include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Guillain – Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy) [4]
  • Alcoholism [5]
  • Vitamin deficiencies (Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and niacin deficiencies) [6]
  • Systemic diseases (hormonal imbalances, connective tissue disorders and chronic inflammation, amyloidosis, vascular damage and blood diseases, liver disease, kidney disorders, cancer, and benign tumors that impinge or nerves)
  • Nerve entrapment syndromes (radial nerve palsy, peroneal nerve palsy, ulnar nerve palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome).

Also, there can be other causes for Numbness in hands and feet, such as

  • Posture (crossing your legs for too long, sitting or kneeling for long periods, sitting on the feet, wearing pants, socks, or shoes that are too tight) [7]
  • Injuries to the ankles, legs, hips, spine, and torso
  • Lower back issues (breakdown or herniation of spinal discs) and sciatica
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Tumors or other abnormal growths
  • Fibromyalgia [8]
  • Multiple sclerosis [9]
  • Stroke and mini-strokes [2]


[1] Barker KDD, Vacek CJ. Peripheral neuropathies associated with drugs and toxins. 2015. Retrieved from

[2] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. Retrieved from

[3] Menorca RMG, Fussell TS, Elfar JC. Peripheral nerve trauma: Mechanisms of injury and recovery. Hand Clinics. 2013;29(3):317–30. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2013.04.002

[4] Kraker J, Živković SA. Autoimmune neuromuscular disorders. Current Neuropharmacology. 2011;9(3):400–8. doi:10.2174/157015911796558000

[5] Chopra K, Tiwari V. Alcoholic neuropathy: possible mechanisms and future treatment possibilities. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2012;73(3):348–62. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.04111.x

[6] Staff NP, Windebank AJ. Peripheral neuropathy due to vitamin deficiency, toxins, and medications. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2014;20(5 Peripheral Nervous System Disorders):1293–306. doi:10.1212/01.CON.0000455880.06675.5a

[7] Mustapa A, Justine M, Mustafah NM, et al. Postural control and gait performance in the diabetic peripheral neuropathy: A systematic review. Biomed Research Interantional. 2016;2016:9305025. doi:10.1155/2016/9305025

[8] Massachusetts General Hospital. Evidence of nerve damage in about half of fibromyalgia patients. Science Daily. 2013. Retrieved from

[9] Khan A, Kamran S, Ponirakis G, et al. Peripheral neuropathy in patients with multiple sclerosis. PLoS One. 2018;13(3):e0193270. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0193270


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