Numbness and tingling are common sensations you’ve probably experienced at one time or another during your lifetime. Numbness is described as a loss of sensation in a specific part of your body, usually the hands or feet. In many cases, this numbness is accompanied by a tingling that is described as a “pins and needles” sensation. Typically, these symptoms are not life-threatening and are because of a benign cause that is nothing to be concerned about. However, in some cases they indicate a more serious medical problem, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and should be checked out.
Numbness occurs when there is a change in nerve function, making it so the nerves can no longer communicate with one another. When this interruption takes place, the nerves misfire and result in a loss of sensation, referred to as numbness.
Tingling, on the other hand, happens when blood circulation is compromised, depriving the cells of the oxygen they need to act normal. People who live or work in extremely cold temperatures may experience tingling from time to time, as the nerves in the hands do not work as they should in low temperatures. The specialized cells in the body - called neurons - that send nerve impulses to the brain also start to send wrong signals to the brain when this happens, resulting in a tingling sensation.
Common Causes of Numbness and Tingling
As mentioned, there are many different reasons why you may experience numbness or a tingling sensation. Some of the most common causes include:
Limb falls asleep
The most common benign cause of numbness and tingling is when an arm or leg falls asleep. This usually occurs after it is held in the same position for too long. If you’ve ever woken up with a “dead arm” after falling asleep with your arm bent, chances are you know what this feels like.
Repetitive nerve damage
People with carpal tunnel syndrome or another type of repetitive nerve damage may also experience numbness and tingling. This happens when repetitive pressure is placed on a nerve, usually from spending too much time using a keyboard.
There are several common neurological disorders that can lead to numbness and tingling, including:
This condition happens as a result of injury or disease that causes damage to the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
People who have high glucose levels as a result of nerve damage may develop diabetic neuropthy, which often results in symptoms such as numbness and tingling. This happens when the blood vessels do not have enough nutrients and oxygen to support the nerves.
When the protective coating of nerve cells are damaged, it may result in neuralgia. People who are older and have other neurodegenerative disorders are at risk of developing this condition.
Other causes of numbness and tingling include migraines, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Raynaud's Disease, thyroid disorders, certain medications, epilepsy, and lack of vitamins or nutrients. To learn more about how we treat numbness and tingling at Texas Partners Healthcare Group, please contact one of our locations in Allen, Anna, Dallas, Frisco, or McKinney.