Numbness is caused by damage, irritation or compression of nerves. A single nerve branch or several nerves may be affected. Examples include a slipped disk in the back or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist. Certain diseases such as diabetes or toxins such as chemotherapy or alcohol can damage the longer, more-sensitive nerve fibers. These include the nerve fibers that go to the feet. The damage can cause numbness.

Numbness commonly affects nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. When these nerves are affected, it can cause a lack of feeling in the arms, legs, hands and feet.

Numbness alone, or numbness associated with pain or other unpleasant sensations, isn't usually due to life-threatening disorders such as strokes or tumors.

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

Possible causes of numbness include:

Brain and nervous system conditions

  1. Acoustic neuroma
  2. Brain aneurysm
  3. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation)
  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
  3. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  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
  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.

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May 04, 2023

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  2. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)
  3. Aneurysm Surgery
  4. Anti-seizure medications
  5. Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
  6. Arteriovenous malformation
  7. Blood tests for heart disease
  8. Brachial plexus injury
  9. Brain aneurysm
  10. Explaining multiple sclerosis
  11. Brachial plexus anatomy
  12. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  13. Carotid artery disease
  14. Cavernous malformations
  15. Cervical spondylosis
  16. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  17. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  18. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
  19. Collecting Pennies Through the Pain
  20. Daily aspirin therapy
  21. Demyelinating disease: What can you do about it?
  22. Diabetic neuropathy
  23. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  24. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  25. Dislocated shoulder
  26. Dislocation
  27. Eisenmenger syndrome
  28. Emerging treatments for multiple sclerosis
  29. Essential thrombocythemia
  30. Exercise and multiple sclerosis
  31. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  32. Fibromuscular dysplasia
  33. Flu shots and heart disease
  34. Football Spinal Cord Injury - The Chris Norton Story
  35. Frostbite
  36. Frostbite: First aid
  37. Functional neurologic disorder/conversion disorder
  38. Golfer's elbow
  39. Grass-fed beef
  40. Healthy Heart for Life!
  41. Heart and Blood Health
  42. Heart disease
  43. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  44. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  45. Herniated disk
  46. What is a herniated disk? A Mayo Clinic expert explains
  47. Bulging disk
  48. Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?
  49. Jellyfish stings
  50. Lead poisoning
  51. Lyme disease
  52. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why the risk of frostbite is greater than you think
  53. Mayo Clinic Minute: Will there be a Lyme disease vaccine for humans?
  54. Measles Virus as a Cancer Fighter
  55. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  56. Meralgia paresthetica
  57. Metatarsalgia
  58. Migraine with aura
  59. Ministroke vs. regular stroke: What's the difference?
  60. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  61. Morton's neuroma
  62. Multiple myeloma
  63. Infographic: Multiple Myeloma
  64. Multiple sclerosis
  65. Infographic: Multiple Sclerosis
  66. Multiple sclerosis: Can it cause seizures?
  67. What is multiple sclerosis? An expert explains
  68. Multiple sclerosis FAQs
  69. Neurofibromatosis
  70. New Way to Fix Aneurysms
  71. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  72. Omega-3 in fish
  73. Omega-6 fatty acids
  74. Paget's disease of bone
  75. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  76. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  77. Peripheral nerve tumors
  78. Peripheral neuropathy
  79. Pinched nerve
  80. Polycythemia vera
  81. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  82. Porphyria
  83. Postherpetic neuralgia
  84. Raynaud's disease
  85. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  86. Runner's Compartment Syndrome
  87. Salivary gland tumors
  88. Schwannomatosis
  89. Sciatica
  90. Shingles
  91. Shingles and alcohol
  92. Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
  93. Shingles vaccine: Should I get it?
  94. Spinal cord injury
  95. Spinal stenosis
  96. Heart disease prevention
  97. Syringomyelia
  98. Thrombocytosis
  99. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  100. Transverse myelitis
  101. Traumatic brain injury
  102. Vasculitis
  103. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  104. Migraine aura
  105. Vitamin D and MS: Any connection?
  106. Vitamin deficiency anemia
  107. Vitamins for MS: Do supplements make a difference?