Numbness in Hands and Feet: Causes and Remedies

Anytime you experience numbness in hands and feet, it should not be ignored. Numbness that is persistent or intermittent is considered to be a common type of damage to a person’s nerves. It can be due to nerve diseases or some systemic illness. When looking at this numbness, there are multiple possible causes as well as home remedies. If the numbness is persistent, however, you should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

Possible Causes of Numbness in Hands and Feet

1. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the spinal cord and brain. It is due to damage of the myelin sheath, the protective covering around the nerve cells. In addition to numbness, other symptoms of MS include loss of balance, difficulty in moving the legs and arms, and muscle spasms.

2. Herniated Disc

Herniated discs may cause numbness in hands and feet as well as a tingling sensation. A herniated disc is when the cushioning between your discs or bones in the spine is pinched. The most common symptoms include numbness, pain or weakness in the lower back, an arm or a leg.

3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to numerous symptoms such as numbness in the legs or arms, weakness or loss of balance. This vitamin is found naturally in high-protein foods as well as animal products. Some adults, including those who have intestinal disorders may find it harder to absorb vitamin B12. Keep in mind that consuming too much B6 may also lead to tingling in your hands or feet.

4. Peripheral Nerve Damage

The peripheral nerve is responsible for sending important information to your brain and can be damaged by abusing certain substances, such as alcohol, tobacco or lead. Since the peripheral nerves are unique, there can be a range of symptoms, including temporary tingling or numbness or prickling sensations throughout the body. Peripheral nerve damage may also be due to a systemic disease, metabolic disorders or a physical injury.

5. Diabetes

This metabolic disorder involves a decreased blood flow and high levels of blood sugar which together can cause nerve damage. This may lead to reduced feeling or numbness in hands and feet or arms and legs in addition to a fast heart rate, sexual problems, over-sweating and burning or tingling in the legs and arms. Symptoms such as tingling typically develop first in both feet before traveling up the legs.

6. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome, or tibial nerve dysfunction, takes place when your tibial nerve is damaged. This nerve is responsible for allowing your foot and calf muscles to move and experience sensation. This syndrome may be due to pressure affecting the nerve over an extended length of time or direct trauma. In addition to the tingling and numbness, this syndrome also causes burning sensations, weakness or pain in the foot muscles.

7. Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral arterial disease involves hardening and narrowing of the arteries that is responsible for bringing blood to the feet and legs. This leads to a decrease in blood flow and related injuries to tissues and nerves. In addition to the numbness in hands and feet which are also cool to the touch, they may include fatigue, ache or burning in the thigh, calf or feet muscles.

8. Alcoholism

The poor dietary habits associated with alcoholics can lead to important vitamin deficiencies, including that of thiamine. This particular deficiency frequently leads to peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, chronically abusing alcohol may cause damage to the nerves, known as alcohol neuropathy.

9. Toxins and Drugs

Toxins may also lead to numbness in the extremities. Potential toxins include heavy metals like thallium, mercury, arsenic and lead; environmental and industrial chemicals; certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs that treat lung cancer and some antibiotic or antiviral drugs.

10. Stress and Anxiety

Acute anxiety and stress may cause hyperventilation. Breathing quickly and shallowly for several minutes can lead to the numbness of hands, feet and lips as well as stiffness or fainting. The numbness will sometimes be followed by migraines along with heaviness in the feet, hands, neck and by the mouth.

11. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Those with carpal tunnel syndrome will notice the numbness in hands and feet affecting their sleep. People most commonly lose sensation along the tip of the thumb as well as the middle and index fingers. This condition makes it hard to perform daily tasks. Treatment can range from wearing a splint to injections or surgery.

12. Other Causes

There are also numerous other possible causes, including:

  • Infections like HIV/AIDS, herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, shingles and Lyme disease
  • Autoimmune disorders like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Systemic diseases like chronic inflammation, connective tissue disorders, amyloidosis, blood diseases, vascular damage, liver disease, kidney disorders, hormonal imbalances, benign tumors or cancers impinging on nerves

Home Remedies for Numbness in Hands and Feet

1. Apply Warm Compress

Using a warm compress can increase the blood supply and relax nerves and muscles. Take a warm shower, find a heating pad or wet a washcloth using warm water and apply it to the area.

2. Massage Your Hands and Feet

Massaging the areas with numbness can also promote blood circulation and let you regain feeling. It also stimulates muscles and nerves to improve overall function. Try massaging warm mustard, coconut, or olive oil on the area with firm fingers in circular motions for five minutes.

3. Soak Your Feet with Epsom Salt

You can also ease numbness in hands and feet by soaking them in warm water containing Epsom salt. The crystals of magnesium sulfate boost your body’s magnesium levels to improve circulation. Soak your feet for ten minutes, but avoid this option if you have kidney issues or diabetes.

4. Try Certain Herbs

The curcumin in turmeric boosts blood flow. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce discomfort and pain. Cinnamon contains potassium, manganese, B vitamins and other nutrients that improve blood flow, treating numbness. Make these herbs into tea, take supplements or massage the area with a paste made using the herb. Ginkgo biloba can also improve circulation and you can find supplements. 

5. Elevate the Affected Area

Elevating the affected limbs can also boost circulation. Simply put your legs and hands on some pillows and relax.

6. Change Your Lifestyle

You should quit smoking as this constricts the blood supplied to the blood vessels which bring nutrients to the peripheral nerves. You should also limit alcohol consumption, follow a balanced diet and follow an exercise program recommended by your doctor.

When to See a Doctor

You need to visit your doctor immediately in the following situations.

  • ŸParalysis or weakness occurs on one side of the body without an obvious cause
  • ŸA sudden change to vision
  • Speech becomes slurred
  • Numbness comes after an injury to the neck or back, with or without loss of consciousness
  • ŸLoss of bladder or bowel control
  • ŸNumbness worsens when walking
  • ŸNumbness doesn’t get better within several minutes
  • ŸThere are spasms, dizziness or a rash
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