Numbness is often caused by damage, irritation or compression of nerves. A single nerve branch or several nerves may be affected, as with a slipped disk in the back or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist. Certain diseases — such as diabetes, which can damage the longest, most sensitive nerve fibers (such as those going to your feet) — also can cause numbness.

Numbness commonly affects nerves located on the periphery of your body. 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

  1. Acoustic neuroma
  2. Brain aneurysm (a bulge in an artery in your brain)
  3. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation) (arteriovenous malformation) — an abnormal formation of brain blood vessels
  4. Brain tumor
  5. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  6. Herniated disk
  7. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  8. Peripheral nerve injuries
  9. Peripheral neuropathy
  10. Spinal cord injury
  11. Spinal cord tumor
  12. Stroke
  13. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  14. Transverse myelitis

Trauma or overuse injuries

  1. Brachial plexus injury
  2. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  3. Frostbite

Chronic conditions

  1. Alcohol use disorder
  2. Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in your organs)
  3. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a group of hereditary disorders that affects the nerves in your arms and legs)
  4. Diabetes
  5. Fabry's disease
  6. Multiple sclerosis
  7. Porphyria
  8. Raynaud's disease
  9. Sjogren's syndrome

Infectious diseases

  1. Leprosy
  2. Lyme disease
  3. Shingles (herpes zoster infection)
  4. Syphilis

Treatment side effects

  1. Side effects of chemotherapy or anti-HIV drugs

Other causes

  1. Heavy metal exposure
  2. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  3. Vasculitis
  4. 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.

April 20, 2019

See also

  1. Acetyl-L-carnitine: Can it relieve MS fatigue?
  2. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)
  3. Aneurysm Surgery
  4. Anti-seizure medications
  5. Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
  6. Arteriovenous malformation
  7. Infographic: Asymptomatic Carotid Disease
  8. Blood tests for heart disease
  9. Brachial plexus injury
  10. Brachial plexus surgery
  11. Brain aneurysm
  12. Explaining multiple sclerosis
  13. Brachial plexus anatomy
  14. Fact or Fiction? Debunking Exercise & Nutrition Myths for Preventing Heart Disease and Risk Factors
  15. Healthy Heart Numbers
  16. Heart disease in women
  17. Sports Cardiology Program
  18. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  19. Cannabis for MS: Can it help treat symptoms?
  20. Carotid artery disease
  21. Cavernous malformations
  22. Cervical spondylosis
  23. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  24. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  25. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
  26. Collecting Pennies Through the Pain
  27. Functional neurologic disorders/conversion disorder
  28. Daily aspirin therapy
  29. Demyelinating disease: What can you do about it?
  30. Diabetic neuropathy
  31. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  32. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  33. Dislocated shoulder
  34. Dislocation
  35. Dislocation: First aid
  36. Eisenmenger syndrome
  37. Emerging treatments for multiple sclerosis
  38. Essential thrombocythemia
  39. Estriol as a potential treatment option for multiple sclerosis (MS)
  40. Exercise and multiple sclerosis
  41. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  42. Fibromuscular dysplasia
  43. Fingolimod during pregnancy: Is it safe?
  44. Flu shots and heart disease
  45. Football Spinal Cord Injury - The Chris Norton Story
  46. Frostbite
  47. Frostbite: First aid
  48. Golfer's elbow
  49. Grass-fed beef
  50. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  51. Healthy Heart for Life!
  52. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  53. Heart disease
  54. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  55. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  56. Herniated disk
  57. Bulging disk
  58. Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?
  59. Is there a multiple sclerosis diet?
  60. Jellyfish stings
  61. Preventing lead exposure
  62. Lead poisoning
  63. Long-term safety of natalizumab for treating multiple sclerosis
  64. Love to golf? Protect your elbows
  65. Lyme disease
  66. Managing anxiety in MS: What works?
  67. Managing depression in MS
  68. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why the risk of frostbite is greater than you think
  69. Mayo Clinic Minute: Will there be a Lyme disease vaccine for humans?
  70. Measles Virus as a Cancer Fighter
  71. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  72. Meralgia paresthetica
  73. Metatarsalgia
  74. Migraine with aura
  75. Mindfulness practice: Can it reduce symptoms of MS?
  76. Ministroke vs. regular stroke: What's the difference?
  77. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  78. Morton's neuroma
  79. Multiple myeloma
  80. Infographic: Multiple Myeloma
  81. Multiple sclerosis
  82. Infographic: Multiple Sclerosis
  83. Multiple sclerosis: Can it cause seizures?
  84. Neurofibromatosis
  85. New Way to Fix Aneurysms
  86. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  87. Omega-3 in fish
  88. Omega-6 fatty acids
  89. Paget's disease of bone
  90. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  91. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  92. Peripheral nerve tumors
  93. Peripheral neuropathy
  94. Personalized therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS)
  95. Pinched nerve
  96. Polycythemia vera
  97. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  98. Porphyria
  99. Postherpetic neuralgia
  100. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  101. Pseudoclaudication: Is it related to claudication?
  102. Put fish on the menu
  103. Raynaud's disease
  104. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  105. Salivary gland tumors
  106. Sciatica
  107. Shingles
  108. Shingles and alcohol
  109. Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
  110. Shingles vaccine: Should I get it?
  111. Spinal cord injury
  112. Spinal stenosis
  113. Heart disease prevention
  114. Stress management for MS
  115. Syringomyelia
  116. Thrombocytosis
  117. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  118. Transverse myelitis
  119. Traumatic brain injury
  120. Understanding spinal muscular atrophy
  121. Vasculitis
  122. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  123. Migraine aura
  124. Vitamin D and MS: Any connection?
  125. Vitamin deficiency anemia
  126. Vitamins for MS: Do supplements make a difference?
  127. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease