Numbness is 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, or toxins such as chemotherapy drugs or alcohol, can damage the longer, more-sensitive nerve fibers (such as those going to your feet) and cause numbness.

Numbness commonly affects nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, usually causing a lack of sensation 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 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
  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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June 22, 2021

See also

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