Numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation or compression of several nerves or a single branch of a nerve, most often situated in the periphery of your body. Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness. Rarely, numbness can be caused by problems in your brain or spinal cord.

Fortunately, numbness by itself is only rarely associated with potentially life-threatening disorders, such as strokes or tumors.

Your doctor will need detailed information about your symptoms to diagnose the cause of your numbness. A variety of tests may be needed to confirm the cause before appropriate treatment can begin.

  1. Acoustic neuroma
  2. Alcoholism or chronic alcohol use
  3. Amyloidosis
  4. Brachial plexus injury
  5. Brain aneurysm
  6. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation) — abnormal connections between blood vessels in the brain
  7. Brain tumor (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  8. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  9. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  10. Diabetes
  11. Fabry's disease
  12. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  13. Herniated disk
  14. Leprosy
  15. Lyme disease
  16. Multiple sclerosis
  17. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  18. Peripheral nerve compression (ulnar or peroneal nerves)
  19. Peripheral neuropathy
  20. Raynaud's disease
  21. Shingles
  22. Side effects of chemotherapy or anti-HIV drugs
  23. Sjogren's syndrome
  24. Spinal cord injury
  25. Stroke
  26. Syphilis
  27. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  28. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  29. Uremia
  30. Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
  31. Vitamin B-12 deficiency

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Apr. 20, 2013