What Causes Numbness and Tingling in Arms and Hands?

What Causes Numbness and Tingling in Arms and Hands

Arms and hands play a vital role in our daily routine and if they face discomfort, even for a few seconds, we tend to panic. So, have you been experiencing an uneasy sensation in your arms, of late? Unable to move your hands? Lack of sensation in your feet? The reason behind all these symptoms could well be numbness in your arms and hands. So, let us find out what causes numbness and tingling in arms and hands.

Hands and arms go numb for various reasons including a few serious medical conditions. Therefore, it becomes important for us to understand the cause of conditions like right arm pain and numbness in fingers. Since it could be a sign of major disease, early diagnosis will help your doctor treat your condition effectively.

What Causes Numbness and Tingling in Arms and Hands

Any number of reasons - from small insect bites to serious medical conditions like a tumor can put pressure on the nerves. Let’s go through each of these factors

Pressure on the Nerves

The nerves in our hands and arms are directly linked to the neck and spine, Therefore, any kind of undue pressure on the nerves can result in the numbness. There is a major nerve, called the Median Nerve, which travels all through the arm to the wrist. When this particular nerve gets squeezed or pressure exerted on it, your arms and hand go numb. This syndrome is known as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). If not diagnosed early, you’ll have to undergo a surgery to release the pressure on this median nerve.


Mini Stroke

When your arms go numb, there’s a possibility that you might have suffered a mini-stroke, which is medically called as Transient Ischemic Attack. This condition is caused due to lack of supply of blood to the brain and warrants immediate medical attention.


Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Your nerves require vitamin B-12 to stay healthy. Therefore, deficiency of this vitamin can also lead to numbness in your hands and feet. Similarly, Potassium and Magnesium are two minerals that are to be adequately maintained in the blood to avoid numbness of the nerve endings in our extremities.


Drugs

Beware of taking any medicines without doctor’s prescription since there are quite a few drugs which can cause numbness of the hands and arms. Numbness is also a side effect of some of the medicines like antibiotics and blood pressure medications.


Raynaud’s Disease

The nerves usually get pressurized when starved of sufficient blood supply and when this happens with the nerves in the arms and hand, they go numb. This phenomenon is called as Raynaud’s disease, and it is caused when you are stressed or even when you’re suffering a cold.


Injury to The Spinal Bones

Certain cases of injury to the spinal bones can lead to cervical spondylosis. In this medical condition, the nerves in the neck are disturbed, and this results in the tingling sensation of arms, hands, and fingers.


Tennis Elbow

Sportspersons usually suffer from ‘tennis elbow’, which is caused due to repeated motions of the hand. These repeated motions damage the muscles near the elbow, resulting in numbness of hands especially the ring fingers.


Hypothyroidism

If you are a thyroid patient, then too, there are chances of feeling a tingling sensation in the hands and feet. The nerves in our hands and feet get damaged due to hypothyroidism, resulting in numbness in the hands and feet. In medical terms, this situation is called peripheral neuropathy.


Consumption of Alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol can also end in damage to the nerves, which in turn causes tingling in hands and feet. Anxiety attacks could also accompany these symptoms.


If you keep your hand under your head and fall asleep for a long time, your hand can go numb due to the pressure on the hand nerves. This type of numbness in hands, while sleeping, gets relieved within a few minutes after you remove the source of pressure. The same situation arises when you sit in a single position for a long time or when you sit for long with your legs crossed. The other major causes of numbness in the arms and hands range from diabetes, injury in the spinal cord, food infection, frostbite, rashes on the skin, to the injury or inflammation, seizures, and multiple sclerosis.


Now that you have an idea of what causes numbness and tingling in arms and hands, it’s important for you to observe their intensity, duration, and frequency. So, if your hands and arms feel a numbness and tingling for a long time, or if it’s a frequent occurrence, you need to consult your doctor, on a priority basis. Only then will the doctor be able to diagnose any serious medical conditions, and prescribe appropriate treatment, before it’s too late.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad