There are many different things that can cause tingling in your hands and feet. Often, tingling in hands and feet is associated with other symptoms, including pain, burning or numbness. These symptoms are generally an indication of nerve damage in the peripheral areas of your body, called peripheral neuropathy.
Causes of Tingling in Hands and Feet
There are many things that might cause a tingling sensation in your extremities. Some common causes include: vitamin deficiency, diabetes and kidney failure. Other less common causes are: taking certain medications, autoimmune diseases, toxins, alcoholism and infections.
If caused by a treatable condition, symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can improve. Often, medications can help to reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
There are several symptoms of peripheral neuropathy other than tingling in hands and feet. The symptoms that you experience will vary depending on the type of nerves in your body that were affected. There are three classifications of nerves in your body:
- Sensory nerves: the nerves that receive sensation, such as temperature, pain, vibration or touch, from the skin
- Motor nerves: the nerves that control muscle movement
- Autonomic nerves: the nerves that control functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder
The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your hands or feet, which oftentimes spreads upwards into your arms and legs
- Pain that is sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning
- Sensitivity to touch
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
If your autonomic nerves are affected, you might experience these additional symptoms:
- Heat intolerance and sweating
- Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
- Changes in blood pressure that result in dizziness or lightheadedness
Peripheral neuropathy can affect one or more nerves in your body. When it affects one nerve, it’s called mononeuropathy, two or more nerves in different areas, it’s called multiple mononeuropathy, or many nerves, called polyneuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of mononeuropathy, because one nerve is affected.
How to Prevent Peripheral Neuropathy
First and foremost, the key to preventing peripheral neuropathy is managing the conditions that put you at risk, including diabetes, alcoholism and rheumatoid arthritis.
To help support your body, do things like: eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, take medications as directed and avoid factors that could increase damage to your body (sitting in the same position for hours at a time, smoking, over consuming alcohol).
Risk Factors for Peripheral Neuropathy
These are the most common risk factors for developing this condition:
- Diabetes mellitus, especially if sugar levels are poorly monitored and controlled
- Vitamin deficiencies, particularly Vitamin B and E
- Infections (Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, HIV)
- Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
- Kidney, liver or thyroid disorders
- Exposure to toxins
- Repetitive motion, such as those performed for certain jobs
- Family history of neuropathy
When to See your Doctor
If you experience tingling in your hands or feet, or symptoms of pain or weakness, schedule a visit with your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are key for controlling your symptoms and preventing further damage to your peripheral nerves.
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