Numbness of Hands & Feet

Numbness of hands and feet is a very common complaint. Numbness of hands and feet can be only a symptom or it can occur with other symptoms such as weakness and decrease in power in both arms and legs. In such cases, patients develop difficulty in climbing stairs, buttoning shirt, doing hair, walking or putting on shoes.

Causes:

Numbness of hands and feet can occur due to number of causes. Commonest causes are diabetes, pregnancy and postpartum state, kidney disease, problem with thyroid, liver problems, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, obesity, side effect of drugs, problems with spine, stroke and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment:

Treatment involves identifying the underlying cause and addressing it.

General instructions for the patients:

1. All patients should stay active. Those who are overweight should lose weight. Obese patients more commonly complain of numbness.

2. Patient should eat well balanced diet containing vegetables, fruits and meat. People who are vegetarian often have numbness and weakness of the limbs.

3. Numbness of hands is very common after pregnancy and it resolves by itself within a year or so.

4. Almost all diabetic patients complain of numbness of hands and feet. It is because of diabetic neuropathy. All diabetics should have better control of their blood sugar.

5. Sometimes numbness in hands and feet is related to other medical conditions like kidney disease, neuropathies etc. Treatment of underlying disease is necessary to help the numbness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the reason for numbness of hands and feet?

Most common causes are diabetes, pregnancy, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome and nutritional deficiencies.

What vitamin deficiencies can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet?

Usually, it is due to deficiency of vitamin B1, B6 and B12.

Is numbness in hands and feet a serious problem?

It depends on the underlying disease. If  your concern is only numbness then it may not be a serious problem.

How can I help numbness and tingling in my hands & feet?

If you have numbness in your hands or if you have carpal tunnel syndrome then you should avoid bending your wrists too much. Avoid repetitive hand movements like using keyboard. Also, losing weight will help a lot. Avoid cold water. Using soft and small pillow may also help numbness in your hands. Avoid alcohol. Avoid excessive physical activity. While sleeping your arms should be at your sides and they should not be above or under your head. Avoid folding your arms under your pillow as well, it can cause pressure on blood vessels and nerves. Numbness in hands can also be helped by using wrist splints, please ask your doctor about that.

If you have numbness in your feet, observe proper feet hygiene. Avoid wearing tight shoes or stockings. Avoid excessive walking. If you have to sit for a long period of time, then it is advisable to put some sort of support under your feet so that they should not keep on hanging. You should avoid crossing your legs for too long, sitting on the feet, kneeling for long periods. Massage can also help. Diabetics usually have numbness in the feet and they need to discuss this with their diabetologist.

Can anxiety cause numbness and tingling?

Yes, anxiety can cause feeling of numbness and tingling anywhere in the body including face, hands and feet.

Disclaimer:
The information given here is intended for use of general public . It should not be taken as standard medical reference.

About the Author:

One of the most well known neurologists in Lahore, he is serving as Assistant Professor of Neurology at Lahore General Hospital. He is a graduate of King Edward Medical College and did residency in general medicine & neurology at Mayo Hospital Lahore. He did FCPS in neurology and moved to Lahore General Hospital, and has been working there since.

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