LifestylePain ManagementDon't Ignore Tingling and Numbness in Hands and Feet

Don’t Ignore Tingling and Numbness in Hands and Feet

Tingling and Numbness in Hands and Feet
Tingling and Numbness in Hands and Feet

Tingling and Numbness in Your Hands and Feet Overview

If you’ve ever experienced tingling, numbness, and pain in hands and feet (or wrists and elbows), you know it feels a lot worse than it sounds. There are many reasons why you could be having these sensations, so it’s extremely important to identify the potential causes. This is especially true if you have chronic pain because tingling is a symptom for many chronic conditions.

Many people often ask, ‘When should I worry about tingling in my hands?’ The answer depends on accompanying symptoms and their severity.

A personal testimony of pain, tingling and numbness video

Speaking from personal experience, I made the mistake of ignoring unexplainable left foot tingling and numbness. It’s not uncommon for people to experience feet and hands tingling, especially after sitting in one position for too long.

But progressively, it got worse and eventually, the pain, numbness, and tingling moved up my foot and into my left leg. I’ll never know if catching it sooner would’ve prevented my herniated L5. My advice for anyone in a similar situation is to go to the doctor sooner rather than later.

Not all tingling indicates a serious health problem. Sometimes, you may feel nerve pain or experience a lack of nerve function that feels like pins and needles, but persistent tingling in fingers and toes warrants attention. However, once you start moving your limb, the tingling may subside. If this happens, it’s likely due to restricted blood flow. Although it feels awkward and uncomfortable, it’s only temporary.

You may have also had your foot fall asleep before. This may happen when you unknowingly sit or sleep in an odd position. It also resolves itself as soon as you allow blood to flow normally to your extremities.

If you experience unexplainable and frequent tingling and numbness in your hands or feet, read our guide for determining your next steps. We’ll give you some background on tingling, and let you know when it’s time to worry.

Identifying the sensations

Identifying tingling and numbness the sensations

A tingling sensation, often described as pins and needles in fingers or toes, can feel like constant pinpricks or a low humming of electricity and constant vibration that’s impossible to ignore. Some even describe it as a zapping sensation that can quickly shift from bearable to painful.

It can be very aggravating and easily disrupt your normal day-to-day activities. We instinctively shake our extremities, sometimes feeling tingling in fingertips, wiggling and moving our toes or fingers in the hopes of increasing circulation. Unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t work.

Numbness is a more complex feeling. It can be far more concerning as well. If you can’t feel your hands or feet or feel as if you can’t control them, that’s numbness. At the height of my numbness, I couldn’t feel my own hand on my skin when I touched my foot.

What tingling in hand and feet means

Tingling, like experiencing tingling in the right hand, is not as serious as numbness, but it can be uncomfortable and disruptive. In fact, many of the conditions that cause tingling are temporary. If you experience left hand fingers tingling along with numbness, it could be a sign of a nerve issue that shouldn’t be ignored. However, pay careful attention if that tingling is associated with pain.
Peripheral neuropathy, which results from damage to the peripheral nerves, may be causing your tingling. These nerves send signals to your brain about any physical sensations you are feeling. When the nerves are damaged or destroyed, they might send the wrong signals to your brain, making it seem like you are in pain when nothing is causing it.

What tingling in hands and feet means

Many underlying conditions can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Tingling in extremities, including hands and feet, can be a sign of various conditions, ranging from temporary to more serious ones. If you have any of these conditions, speak to a doctor about your symptoms:

In addition, avoid putting pressure on a nerve. Traumas from falls, accidents or sports injuries can damage nerves or cause pinched nerves.

Furthermore, pain combined with tingling and/or numbness is a much more serious matter. Think of it as a warning sign that your body is breaking down in some way. If the pain is severe or chronic, you could have nerve damage that’s preventing normal body function.

Why numbness matters

By itself, occasional numbness may not be serious, because it’s rarely a result of brain and spinal cord problems. But, numbness combined with tingling or pain can indicate carpal tunnel syndrome or a more serious health issue, like multiple sclerosis (MS). In the most extreme instances, you may suffer issues with your central nervous system.
Visit your doctor if you experience numbness – especially combined with tingling and pain – in your hands or feet. Your doctor may need to perform blood tests as well as a physical exam to determine the cause.
If you experience numbness for more than a day or two, don’t ignore it. Talk to your healthcare team. At a minimum, you may have suffered nerve damage. Your body could be on the brink of a much more serious problem like:

  • a slipped or herniated dis
  • a blood clot
  • signs of infection from a previous injury or illness
  • a decline in health due to a worsening existing condition

“When stenosis is present in the cervical spine or neck,the symptoms can include neck pain, numbness and tingling in the arm, hand or fingers on the affected side.”

It starts with tingling and numbness

The thing about tingling and numbness in hands and feet – with or without the addition of pain – is it’s often the first symptom for a variety of conditions. It’s your body’s way of getting your attention to let you know something is wrong.

Tingling and numbness are the main indicators of degenerative spinal conditions like osteoarthritis. This degenerative condition is also referred to as spinal stenosis. People suffering from spinal stenosis begin to feel symptoms as their spine worsens. “When stenosis is present in the cervical spine or neck,” says Neel Anand, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal deformity correction at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, “the symptoms can include neck pain, numbness and tingling in the arm, hand or fingers on the affected side.”

Similarly, many types of spinal injuries trigger tingling and/or numbness. These include:

  • bulging discs
  • herniated discs
  • spinal tumors
  • other spinal injuries

Additional causes of tingling and numbness

Additional causes of tingling and numbness in hands and feet

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, often reveals itself through numb feelings in the hands or feet. The same symptom of numbness tends to present itself in multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic, progressive disease that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

If you have diabetes, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet can be a sign of diabetic neuropathy, a serious side effect of type 1 and type 2 diabetes that can cause long-term nerve damage. Similarly, if you experience pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, that can be a sign of kidney disease or worse, kidney failure.
Other potential sneaky triggers that cause tingling and numbness include vitamin deficiencies.
Given the array of symptoms [B12 deficiency symptoms] can cause,” says Patrick J. Skerrett, former editor of the Harvard Health blog, “the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else”. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may include:

  • strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs or feet
  • difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
  • anemia
  • a swollen, inflamed tongue
  • difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties) or memory loss
  • weakness
  • fatigue

Luckily vitamin deficiencies are treatable. The key is to identify the condition quickly.

Don’t Ignore Tingling and Numbness in Hands and Feet
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Prolonged tingling and numbness can be serious concerns. If you suffer from either symptom, please talk to your doctor immediately. She will be able to identify the severity of the problem and offer the best course for treatment.

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  1. I’malso in that situation since 2018.The doctors told me that I’m anemic.I was unable to walk,from then I receive vit.B12 injection monthly,although I’m still in that pain of numbness and tingling at list I can walk on my own.
    Happy to read about the situation I’m living in.(not good inEnglish)

  2. Tingling in hand and feet’s are normal sometimes, but if one experiences pain and discomfort, they must visit their physicain as they may find the sign of some chronic disease. This blog suggested everything and clears every doubt about it. Informative one, thanks for Sharing!

    • If you re-read the article it says “The thing about tingling and numbness in hands and feet – with or without the addition of pain – is it’s often the first symptom for a variety of conditions.
      I didn’t consider it pain when my toes tingled in the middle of the night when I had to wear an air boot My ankle fracture was the main pain and ioutweighed the tingling. But it caused me to have to loosen boot multiple times at night. Dr told me to only take off in the shower. I was a good patient. But tingling IS a sign of nerve damage. In my case necrosis as well. Never ignore tingling Dr ignored it for 6 weeks. Now ankle is somewhat better I hope but I can’t walk cuz all my toes in left ft are extremely painful I can’t walk because I have either mortens neuroma plus subchondral flattening of the third metatarsal head suggesting subchondral insufficiency fracture and low-grade strain of the interosseous musculature with associated intermetatarsal bursal fluid. Just to name a few things ortho missed or caused by ignoring my tingling toes. Also had a pinky fracture in the mri. Oh well.

  3. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for starters. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  4. Last night, I had tingling on the bottom of my left foot. A few hours later, I felt it up to my knees and at that point laying in any position was uncomfortable. I even felt it slighlty in my arms. Took Ibuprofen and went to sleep. This morning, the symptoms are only in my foot and way weaker. However, do you by chance know what caused it so suddenly?

  5. Hi,

    My mother is diagnosed with Vertigo and doctor advised to take medicines and do some exercise. She kept on taking medicine and changed few doctors, initially there was no relief. After changing the medicines and doctor, that problem was solved. The dizziness problem was mainly restricted when she see or sleep on the right side.

    Now after few months, she started feeling tingling in right hand fingers and legs. Within few days now it is in all the four limbs and sometime she feel on face also. Then Neurologist advised us for NCV test and MRI Spine. NCV test was fine but in MRI she has been diagnosed with Chiari Malformation Type1. We took opinion of two doctors, below are the comments:

    Doctor 1 (Neuro surgeon) : Advised surgery asap
    Doctor 2 (Neuro surgeon) : Advised to take Gabapin NT 300 for 4 weeks as he said Chiari Malformation Type1 is by birth. Therefore, it is not necessary that the tingling is necessary because of it. It been 10 days she is having medicine Gabapin still no relief. She is 62 years of age. Please advise we should go for a surgery or not. We have been told surgery can have significant health issues as she may not have the same strength post surgery.

    Please advise.


  6. I’ve had pain in my neck and shoulder, and go down to my left arm and hand. I’ve been go to Chriopracter for over year, but not helping. What doctor should I go to for further treatment?

  7. I’ve had numbness and pain in my feet for over 5 years with different doctors diagnosing every thing but the exact cause of it. Finally this year a new doctor diagnosed me with CIDP , so I’ve been put on IvIg therapy but by this time the damage may be too severe to reversed. I hope that this helps someone out, because I have not seen this condition mentioned in this article.

  8. I,have numbness in my first 3 fingers for years,at least near 3.yrs.I can not hold Anything in it,I am treated for real high blood preasure,had a quad heart by pass operation close to 8 years ago.I have osteorthritis,asma,,my hand was in a,cast for almost a year,it was set wrong & had to be reset after the first month as it had been broken in 5 places,thought it was do to the accident so I might have told my that time, I was 23 years old I am now 85 years-old,,but over the years it has taken all three fingers,now in the last year it’s now taken the ring finger,I’m on 8 pills a day,included a water pill motoprolol.75,plus hydrochloro.25,plus losartan100 mg,plus digoxin.25,plus isosorb mono er 30 mg plusatorvastatin.20 mg plus atorvastatin calcium. 20 mg.and Once in awhile I get feel mom her mom my brother and 5 aunts two uncles had passed with heart trouble, I have been on 50,000 unmune pill once a month for 4 months,at my age is there any help for me with out any operations,, I am 5,3 weigh 137 lbs.w

  9. I’m reading these post I have neuropathy bad in my feet,so bad I can’t walk more than three blocks,now my right hand is numb and tingling. My mind is shot I need help docs just don’t get it


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