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

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. Healthy Heart Numbers
  14. Heart disease in women
  15. Sports Cardiology Program
  16. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  17. Cannabis for MS: Can it help treat symptoms?
  18. Carotid artery disease
  19. Cavernous malformations
  20. Cervical spondylosis
  21. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  22. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  23. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
  24. Collecting Pennies Through the Pain
  25. Control your portions, control your weight
  26. Functional neurologic disorders/conversion disorder
  27. Daily aspirin therapy
  28. Demyelinating disease: What can you do about it?
  29. Diabetic neuropathy
  30. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  31. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  32. Dislocated shoulder
  33. Dislocation
  34. Dislocation: First aid
  35. Ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy
  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. Managing diabetic neuropathy complications
  69. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why the risk of frostbite is greater than you think
  70. Mayo Clinic Minute: Will there be a Lyme disease vaccine for humans?
  71. Measles Virus as a Cancer Fighter
  72. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  73. Meralgia paresthetica
  74. Metatarsalgia
  75. Migraine with aura
  76. Mindfulness practice: Can it reduce symptoms of MS?
  77. Ministroke vs. regular stroke: What's the difference?
  78. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  79. Morton's neuroma
  80. Multiple myeloma
  81. Infographic: Multiple Myeloma
  82. Multiple sclerosis
  83. Infographic: Multiple Sclerosis
  84. Multiple sclerosis: Can it cause seizures?
  85. Neurofibromatosis
  86. New Way to Fix Aneurysms
  87. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  88. Omega-3 in fish
  89. Omega-6 fatty acids
  90. Paget's disease of bone
  91. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  92. Peripheral artery disease
  93. Peripheral nerve tumors
  94. Peripheral neuropathy
  95. Personalized therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS)
  96. Pinched nerve
  97. Polycythemia vera
  98. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  99. Porphyria
  100. Postherpetic neuralgia
  101. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  102. Pseudoclaudication: Is it related to claudication?
  103. Put fish on the menu
  104. Raynaud's disease
  105. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  106. Salivary gland tumors
  107. Sciatica
  108. Shingles
  109. Shingles and alcohol
  110. Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
  111. Shingles vaccine: Should I get it?
  112. Sodium: Smarten up
  113. Spinal cord injury
  114. Spinal stenosis
  115. Heart disease prevention
  116. Stress management for MS
  117. Syringomyelia
  118. Infographic: The blueprints to your heart
  119. Thrombocytosis
  120. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  121. Transverse myelitis
  122. Traumatic brain injury
  123. Vasculitis
  124. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  125. Migraine aura
  126. Vitamin D and MS: Any connection?
  127. Vitamin deficiency anemia
  128. Vitamins for MS: Do supplements make a difference?
  129. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease