Hand numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist.
Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness, although with diabetes similar symptoms usually occur first in your feet.
Uncommonly, numbness may be caused by problems in your brain or spinal cord, although in such cases arm or hand weakness or loss of function also occurs. Numbness alone isn’t usually 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.
Possible causes of numbness in one or both of your hands include:
Brain and nervous system conditions
- Cervical spondylosis
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Spinal cord injury
Trauma or overuse injuries
- Brachial plexus injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Alcohol use disorder
- Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in your organs)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Raynaud's disease
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Lyme disease
Treatment side effects
- Side effects of chemotherapy or HIV drugs
- Ganglion cyst
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
April 19, 2019
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Numbness. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/symptoms-of-neurologic-disorders/numbness. Accessed March 1, 2019.
- Stroke: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/detail_stroke.htm. Accessed Jan. 19, 2016.
- Signs and symptoms of adult brain and spinal cord tumors. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html. Accessed March 1, 2019.
- De Keyser F. Ganglion cysts of the wrist and hand. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
- Raynaud's disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/raynaud/ray_all.html. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
- Numbness. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/numbness/index.asp. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
- Neuropathy (nerve damage). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/. Accessed Feb. 3, 2016.
- Stabler SP. Vitamin B12 deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:149.
- Cervical spondylosis (arthritis of the neck). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00369. Accessed Feb. 3, 2016.
- Ganglion (cyst) of the wrist. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00006. Accessed Feb. 4, 2016.
- Syrinx. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec16/ch224/ch224j.html.. Accessed Feb. 4, 2016.
- Brachial plexus injuries information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brachial_plexus/brachial_plexus.htm. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.
- Daroff RB, et al. Disorders of the peripheral nerves. In: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 1, 2019.
- Briemberg HR, et al. Approach to the patient with sensory loss. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Levin K. Cervical spondylitic myelopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.
- Vriesendorp FJ. Clinical features and diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.
- Clinical manifestations of Sjögren's syndrome: Extraglandular disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Bowden JL, et al. The prevalence and magnitude of impaired cutaneous sensation across the hand in the chronic period post-stroke. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e104153.
- Ferri FF. Frostbite. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 5, 2019.