Numbness is most often caused by damage, irritation or compression of nerves. A single nerve branch, or several nerves, may be affected, as with a slipped disc 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), can also cause numbness.

Usually, the affected nerves are located on the periphery of your body. Only rarely is numbness caused by problems in your brain or spinal cord. Numbness alone is only rarely 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.

Causes of numbness:

  1. Acoustic neuroma
  2. Amyloidosis
  3. Brachial plexus injury
  4. Brain aneurysm
  5. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation)
  6. Brain tumor
  7. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  8. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  9. Fabry's disease
  10. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  11. Heavy metal exposure
  12. Herniated disk
  13. Leprosy
  14. Multiple sclerosis
  15. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  16. Peripheral nerve compression (ulnar or peroneal nerves)
  17. Peripheral neuropathy
  18. Porphyria
  19. Raynaud's disease
  20. Shingles
  21. Side effects of chemotherapy or anti-HIV drugs
  22. Sjogren's syndrome
  23. Spinal cord tumor
  24. Stroke
  25. Syphilis
  26. Kidney cancer
  27. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  28. Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
  29. 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 08, 2016