If you’ve ever experienced tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, you know it feels a lot worse than it sounds. There are many reasons you could be having these sensations. It’s important to identify the potential causes. This is especially true if you’re a chronic pain sufferer with an injury or autoimmune disease.
Not all tingling indicates a serious health problem. You may get nerve pain or experience a lack in nerve function that feels like pins and needles. It may subside when you start moving that limb. That’s likely due to restricted blood flow. It feels awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s only temporary.
You may have had your foot fall asleep before. That happens when we unknowingly sit or sleep in an odd position. It also resolves as soon as pressure is removed from the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow normally to the extremities.
If you experience unexplainable and frequent tingling and numbness in hands and feet, here’s our guide for determining next steps. Also, we’ll let you know when and why it’s time to worry.
Identifying the sensations
Tingling in hands or tingling in your feet can feel like constant pinpricks. It’s like a low humming of electricity or a constant vibration that’s impossible to ignore. Some may describe it as a zapping sensation that can shift from bearable to painful. It can be very aggravating and easily disrupt your normal day-to-day activities. We instinctively shake our extremities – wiggle and move our toes or fingers – in hopes if increasing circulation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.
Numbness is a more complex feeling. It can be far more concerning as well. If you begin to not feel your hands or feet or feel as though you can’t control them, that’s numbness. At the height of my numbness, I could touch my foot and my calf and not feel my own hand on my own skin.
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
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 tingling is associated with pain.
If you experience tingling without pain or numbness, there can be a variety of explanations. Since self-diagnosis is not a good idea, let your doctor run tests to determine your next steps. She will know what to look for and can administer specific tests to identify the underlying cause.
Adding pain to the equation
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 your normal body function.
It could be a sign of infection, which could stem from bacterial or viral sources. An undiagnosed disease is another possibility. Regardless, there are many potential issues, so a visit to the doctor in a necessity.