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