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
- Acoustic neuroma
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation)
- Brain tumor
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Herniated disk
- Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
- Peripheral nerve injuries
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Spinal cord injury
- Spinal cord tumor
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Transverse myelitis
Trauma or overuse injuries
- Brachial plexus injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Alcohol use disorder
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Fabry's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Raynaud's disease
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Lyme disease
Treatment side effects
- Side effects of chemotherapy or anti-HIV drugs
- Heavy metal exposure
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm
- 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.
June 22, 2021
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