If you’ve ever experienced tingling and numbness in your 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.

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. 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.

man rubbing hands in pain

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

A tingling sensation in your hands or feet 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 – 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 means

Tingling is not as serious as numbness. In fact, many of the conditions that cause tingling are temporary. 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.

Many underlying conditions can lead to peripheral neuropathy. 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.

woman rubbing painful wrist

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

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

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. 

woman holding swollen and tingling ankle

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. 

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. 

A personal testimony of pain

Speaking from personal experience, I made the mistake of ignoring unexplainable tingling and numbness in my left foot. 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.

Share this video with a loved one dealing with tingling and numbness:

How have you reduced tingling and numbness? 

Let us know in the comments section!

What topics related to tingling and numbness would you like to see us explore?

Email us at info@painresource.com with your ideas!

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73 COMMENTS

    • Vamsi,

      If you ignore these symptoms, they may get worse, or the underlying issue may progressively get worse. If you have symptoms like this, it’s very important to speak with your doctor, who will be able to better investigate what’s happening.

      Thanks,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  1. Hi there,
    my wife has continuous numbness in her right hand, and sometimes the left one, and the right leg.
    she did a xray for the spine, nothing abnormal
    she did test her blood, to see the level of colesterol and tiglicerides, they are normal
    the 2nd doctor said could be stress or anxiety, what is the best way to diagnose that? so she doesnt end up in useless multi session of psicatric clinic.

  2. i just started taking Coreg after 2 days I started to feel numbness in my hand and feet. Could this be due to medication and is it serious ? Does this symptom go away after continuing to tke Coreg?

    • Hi Marvin,

      If you’re feeling numbness in your hands and feet after taking Coreg, please call your doctor right away. This is a serious side effect and your doctor needs to be made aware of it.

      Best,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  3. Hi my son who is 26 has suddenly started feel numb when he woke up. He felt is feel going numb before getting out t=of bed then his hand. This has happen in January while is was working at the time he felt very tried too. We went to see cardiologies who said there is nothing wrong with his heart then we saw neologise and he even said there is nothing wrong with his nerves. One of his eye and around the eye and that side of nose has ben painful for last 8 month and his lips feels dry all the time too. He drinks 3LT of water a day. We feel so helpless, please please advised.
    Many thanks

    • Mina,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m sorry that your son is experiencing these symptoms. It’s important that you’re working with a medical professional, which it sounds like you are. Please do not give up hope, keep working with your primary care doctor, and keep exploring all options until you get to the root of the problem.

      Best,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

    • Hi Mina,
      Have the doctors done any blood tests to see whether he is deficient in anything? I would recommend folate, b12, vitamin d and iron (thyroid). Also have they tested for diabetes?

      • Kay,

        Thank you for your comment. If his condition is worsening, I would recommend revisiting the issue with your son’s doctor, or getting a second opinion. This is something that should not be taken lightly.

        Thanks,

        Maren

  4. Whenever I move my head in a downward position, both of my feet go to sleep? The only thing I have done for this so far is go to the chiropractor, and he told me to not worry about it, but now my feet go numb/tingling when I am standing up or sitting. I am getting concerned and am wondering what it could be? Can you help me out?

    Thank you,
    Karen M

    • Hello Karen, I had a similar situation with my right foot called drop foot. I had a pinched nerve in L5. You might want to talk with your doctor and have him look further into the issue. Here’s a great article by Spine Health on the spine and nerve roots. Good luck and share your story in our Pain Resource Forum!

  5. Hi Maren,

    Greetings for the day.

    My father around 65 years of age. He is feeling numb in foot fingers when wake-up, some time at down of right arm back side. we done the blood tests for Sugar and cholesterol. But everything is normal.

    please advice us for which treatment we should go.

    • Hi Karthik,

      I’m sorry to hear that your father is experiencing numbness and tingling. It can be hard to get to the bottom of the root cause sometimes. Your father’s primary care doctor will be his best resource. If you don’t feel that he is receiving the treatment or diagnosis that he needs, please get a second opinion from another doctor.

      Thanks,

      Maren

  6. I’ve been to my doctors on numerous occasions regarding the tingling in both hands and arms since September last year. It only occurs in the morning and either wakes me up or happens when I start stirring from my sleep. I have heart palpitations with it too. Lasts for about 20 seconds and then disappears. The doctor has done blood tests and I’ve had an ECG but they don’t know what it is. I’m getting worried as it wakes me up every single morning! What should I do?

    • Julia,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing these symptoms. It can be frustrating when tests don’t reveal a source of the problem. Please continue seeing your doctor, and if you’re not getting the answers that you need, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. I know it’s tough, but keep working toward a solution and you will find answers.

      Best,

      Maren

  7. my hands and finger tips tingle constantlt they feel numb most of the time, paticulary bed time n morning sometimes i find it hard to open n close my hands fully, they are allso swollen too sometimes more days than others, allso my leggs i get bad tingling n cramps n my calfs and when im on my feet all day or working they swell so bad im having to buy shoes a size bigger just to get into them , my feet n legs r very painfull, iv not been to doctors yet feel like thet ll tell me it will go away or its normal, , what should i do? n do u have any idea what it could be, i will be going to change my doctors surgery tomorrow hopefully as i dont feel comfortable with thenm they havnt seemed to help me a lot before in the past, thankyou

    • Hi Martina,

      Thank you for reaching out. It is very important that you are comfortable with your doctor, and that you get the help that you need. Before you go into the office, write out a list of questions. That way you won’t forget to ask anything when you’re in front of your doctor. Doctors are busy people, but your health is important. Make sure you get all of your questions answered before you leave. If you’re not getting the help that you need, or don’t feel comfortable, please get a second opinion. I know it’s time consuming to schedule an appointment with another doctor, but sometimes you have to visit multiple doctors in order to find one who’s a good fit for you and can help you find a solution. Wishing you the very best.

      Sincerely,

      Maren

  8. So if my hand falls asleep and I just sit there and stare at it instead of moving it, is the hand just going to fall of or is the tingling just going to get worse and worse?

    • Hannah,

      Thank you for your comment. If your hand falls asleep, the tingling sensation should subside as soon as you start moving it. If the sensation remains or gets worse and worse, it could be indicative of a more serious issue, and should be checked out by your primary care doctor.

      Thanks,

      Maren

  9. Hi my husband has been suffering from no feeling in hands and legs for some time he is on medication but not doing any good . He cannot walk I have to do everything! !I am at my whitschool end and finding it very difficult as I have osteoporosis should I go further with this please

    • Hi Val,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It sounds like you’re in a difficult situation. If your husband’s medications are not working, please consult with the doctor that prescribed them. I know it can be time consuming and difficult to schedule an appointment and take a trip into the office, but it’s so important to let the doctor know that the medication isn’t working, so that he or she can develop a more effective treatment plan. Wishing you the very best.

      Thanks,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  10. My left hand ring and pinky finger have started to have this tingling feel to them and it started about three weeks ago. My mother says its from sleeping on it the wrong way but i don’t think that is the problem. and its starting to scare me what should i do?

    • Cheyenne,

      Thanks for your comment. Has the tingling stayed constant for three weeks? If so, it’s something you should have your doctor check out. The good news, in your case, is that numbness tends to be more severe than tingling. That being said, it still is something that you should get checked out. If you don’t think that’s the issue, go with your gut instinct and get a second opinion. Your doctor will help you rule out potential causes, and can help uncover the true reason for the tingling. It’s better to catch something like this early on, so I would recommend going now.

      Thanks,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  11. I am 58 yrs old male from Delhi, India. I get frequent numbness or tingling ( occurring more often as compared to earlier) in my limbs and legs and hands. What could be the cause and its remedy?

    The numbness occurs when my hands or legs are in same position for longer time. Is it normal for every one? Sitting cross legged down for longer time in my childhood (also now) causes this problem though the tingling feeling goes off after shaking hands or legs. The duration of numbness is increasing day by day. I also notice that other people of my age do not have this problem.

    My lower back is also giving me trouble with continuous pain or stiffness.

    Your feedback will be highly appreciated.

    • Hi Gyanendra,

      If you are experiencing tingling in your arms or legs as a result from sitting in a particular position for a while, that is generally not something to be concerned about. That being said, if it seems uncommon from what other people are experiencing, as you had mentioned in your comment, it might be worth having a doctor check it out. Sometimes a pinched nerve in the back can cause tingling in your extremities. It’s better to have a doctor take a look, and he or she will be able to give you a better assessment of what’s going on.

      Wishing you the best,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

    • Hi Lacey,

      If you are experiencing these symptoms, please consult with your doctor. He or she are most familiar with your specific medical history, and can best recommend a treatment plan to help you to feel better.

      Thanks,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  12. Hi I’m a uber driver and lately I’m getting numb tingling sensation in my feet. So just recently started to walk more in the park and today or just recently started to get electrical numbness in my feet when I’m standing, for a period of 1 or 2 min. But then it goes away.

    • Christian,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing those symptoms. I would definitely have it checked out by a doctor. They’ll be able to go over your medical history and unique situation to provide you with the best assessment and plan moving forward.

      Thanks,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  13. Hi Maren,
    I had a tingling sensation all way up just my legs last year when I was stood up.
    It only lasted a week or so, I now haven’t had this sensation for months.
    Because it was bothering me I went to the doctor’s, I then got referred to the hospital.
    I have a appointment come through now, I am unsure on what to do as I haven’t had the symptoms for nearly 6 months.
    I don’t know if it’s a waste of a appointment or if I should still attend?
    Please can you give me your advice.
    Thanks.

  14. I had an operation 5 weeks ago on my right shoulder. since then I have had tingling and numbness in my right hand and thumb. It is very painful. I contacted the surgeon who said that this can be normal for a few weeks after an op. What is your opinion on this. What do you advise?

    • Hi Margaret,

      I’m sorry that you’re experiencing tingling and numbness in your hand and thumb. I would recommend being persistent with your surgeon, and telling he or she that you feel it is more serious than the “norm.” You are your best advocate, and sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and be more vocal to get the attention that you need. You can also get a second opinion. If you believe that it’s something more, go with your instinct and don’t hesitate to keep asking questions until you have the answers that you need.

      Sincerely,

      Your Friends at Pain Resource

  15. Hi Maren,

    Great article. “Big thumbs up.” It is of great help to me. I need a bit of more help from you. My wife started feeling tingling in her feet of and on since the birth of our first child, who is one year old now. Now, for the past 2-3 months months, her tingling in feet has become more unbearable to her. Our doctor (general physician) said it is weakness after delivery and more so she is lactating too, and prescribed a few multivitamins, iron pills, calcium plus Vit D, which she has been taking for over a month now but of not benefit. There is not even a bit of improvement in her symptoms.

    I don’t understand what to do now. Which medical specialist should I approach. Should I take her to a neurologist or a gynecologist or endocrinologist or who else. I am in a fuss.

    Please guide me.

    Thanks,

    • Hi Noor,

      Congratulations on your first child! This is such an exciting time in life.

      I’m sorry to hear that your wife is experiencing such tingling. In my research I see that tingling in the feet can actually last up to a year after pregnancy, because during pregnancy the veins around her pelvis were compressed, which limits the blood flow from her feet. This can result in tingling or numbness. It can actually take up to a year for blood flow to return to normal in some women. That being said, this is a concern if your wife ever had gestational diabetes. If she has suffered from this condition in the past, the tingling and numbness could be a sign that the diabetes has returned, or was never fully resolved.

      If diabetes is a concern, I would check with her primary care physician. In regard to the tingling, it might be better to speak with her gynecologist or obstetrician, who may have worked with women in the past with similar symptoms.

      Hope this helps, wishing you all the best.

  16. Hello, today i woke up in the morning my left hand’s finger seems to be a little numb, I’m 16 years of age, my parents aren’t with me amd I don’t know what to do. Could you please tell me what dhould i do??

    • Hi Mariam,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling numbness in your finger. If it hasn’t gone away, I would definitely have a doctor check it out. It’s best to get a medical expert’s opinion in-person for something like this.

  17. This site seems useless all it does is refer one to ones doctor, Maren seems to know nothing but refer, why bother to have her,
    . Though through her perhaps people who did not know that they can see a doctor now know!!!

    • Hi Renee,

      I’m sorry about your frustration. Sometimes people can find answers about conditions online, and other times the situations are those that need to be checked out by a doctor. Tingling and numbness are typically conditions that should be checked out by a doctor to make sure they aren’t indicative of a larger issue. This is why we typically recommend that people with these symptoms visit a doctor.

  18. I have started feeling numbness in my left hand all of a sudden and one day has passed still feeling the same.
    I am feeling thirsty quite often drinking 8 to 10 lts water a day with not so frequent urination.
    I am 23 in age.

  19. Hi – I’ve been experiencing numbness in my right foot, especially toes (which I was thinking came from wearing high heels on a regular basis) but now it’s in my right hand and my fingers. My fingers and toes get VERY cold which is actually a different sensation than the numbness. What’s happening?!

  20. I’m really worry, I’m 40 years old, couples weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with both hands and feet tingling , also I felt my left side of my face tingling too, I’ be Been with a lot of stress lately due to personal reasons, sometimes I fell it during the day too! What’s should I do?

    • Hi Eddy,

      It sounds like this is something that should be checked out by a doctor. I would recommend scheduling an appointment to get the tingling checked out. Stress can definitely accentuate our medical conditions, but if it’s something that’s waking you up in the middle of the night, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.

    • Hi Denise,

      I understand your frustration, and it’s important to remember that each person is a unique individual. Everyone has unique conditions that might cause any tingling or numbing sensations in their body. Doctors do not give medical advice without seeing a patient, because they need to have a complete understanding of the person’s medical history, current physical health, medications and more in order to make a proper assessment. When we’re looking for answers, sometimes it requires seeing a doctor – or even multiple doctors – to get to the root of the problem. I wish you the very best with whatever it is that you’re facing, and hope you find the answers that you’re looking for.

  21. MAREN I’VE BEEN GETTING NUMBNESS AND TINGLING AND PAIN IN MY HANDS. IT’S LIKE MY HANDS ARE FALLING ASLEEP BUT IT HAPPENS DAY AND NIGHT 24/7. IT KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR JUST OVER 2 WEEKS NOW IT WAKES ME UP EVERY NIGHT. DO YOU THINK I SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR?

    • Hi Leah,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been experiencing these symptoms. If it is still bothering you, I would recommend getting it checked out by a doctor. He or she will be able to point you in the right direction based on your specific needs.

  22. Hello about 3 yrs ago I was in a accident nothing major but abut 3 most later i noticed my hands going numb fast forward to present the pain is almost unbearable it effects my everyday life still going numb but at an immediate pace my thighs are showing signs of numbness I’m pre diabetic any ideas

  23. My mother is 53 yrs old she gets numbness with little pain whenever she wakes up from sleep in her limbs, legs and hands. What could be the cause and whom to consult. Neurologist or some other doctor?

    • Good question – I’d recommend visiting your mom’s primary care doctor first, who will be able to recommend the best specialist. Wishing her the best and we hope you find the answers you’re looking for soon.

  24. I’m 42 years old and it been almost a month that I feel numbness and tingling on by both hand everyday ,I did a research in regards to my issue it say I’m lack on vitamin B12 as well as my doctor told me and give me same prescription still nothing happen also do some exercise still the same ,Please let me know what other remedies that I need to know just to get rid of this ….

  25. I get a lot of tingling, sometimes painful (feels sort of like they are on fire at times). Elevating rarely helps. I also at times get tingling in my left hand. It usually is worse as the day goes on, but ave had times that I wake up with excruciating pain in my feet. It is sometimes that same tingling as when your foot wakes up but without the numbness. As I said before it can feel internally “hot”, but not to touch. I do have different amounts of swelling in my feet and calves from water retention. Though even when not visible swollen I still get this tingling pain so I don’t know if there is a correlation. I do have some days where I have no pain or tingling at all but can not determine what is different.

  26. Good Day,

    I have been getting tingling sensation in my left foot and left leg on and off now for a month. I was hit by a car two years ago and broke a few ribs and broke my right side toes. so i have been getting theses sensation for a month now, could that play apart? I do drink a lot of black coffee daily, and i take a multivitamin A-Z one a day and since i been taking them i have started to get the sensations.

    • Simone,

      First of all, I’m sorry you are going through what you are going through. I personally had a condition called drop foot with a tingling sensation going down my leg from the knee down on my right leg. I went to a neuro-chiropractor and it turned out I had a pinched nerve in my L-5. I didn’t do the recommended surgery but did do a lot of exercise to strengthen my back and it did eventually go away. My suggestion to you is find a neuro chiropractor and see what they say.

      Keep fighting the good fight!
      Gary

  27. I have all this and I have talked to my Doctor and before I retired the company Doctor’s they sent me to was ok now I have all these things going on if I ask for anything for pain I’m made like just wanted pills now I just try to deal with it now my balance fatigue weakness in my legs my body I could go on

  28. Vitamin B12 deficient people also feel tingling sensation in their hands and feet. Which is actually a royal pain for them. I’m surprised that this article didn’t mention it. So PLEASE be advised!

  29. I have pain in my feets but my doctor saycit not diabete so can you send me some papers on it. i will love to read more about what to do about it so please send me some my name is at the bottom

  30. 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

  31. 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 Dr.at 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 clonidine.1mg.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 pain.my 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

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