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-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