What causes numbness or tingling in hands or feet and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet can be a concerning sensation. It can range from a mild annoyance to a more severe symptom that affects daily activities. Understanding the causes of numbness or tingling in the hands or feet is crucial in determining the appropriate course of action. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can lead to these sensations and provide guidance on what to do if you experience them.

Causes of Numbness or Tingling in Hands

There are several potential causes for numbness or tingling in the hands:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed or irritated. This compression can lead to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand. It is often caused by repetitive hand movements or conditions such as arthritis.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage or dysfunction of the peripheral nerves, which transmit signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. This condition can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands. Diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and certain medications are common causes of peripheral neuropathy.

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease is a condition that affects blood flow to the extremities, particularly the fingers and toes. It can cause episodes of numbness, tingling, and color changes in the affected areas. Cold temperatures and stress often trigger these episodes.

Causes of Numbness or Tingling in Feet

Similar to the hands, there are various causes for numbness or tingling in the feet:

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can also affect the feet, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain. Diabetes, alcohol abuse, and certain medications are common causes of peripheral neuropathy in the feet.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the tibial nerve, which runs along the inside of the ankle, becomes compressed or irritated. This compression can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet. Flat feet, ankle injuries, and systemic diseases can contribute to tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes. It commonly affects the area between the third and fourth toes and can cause numbness, tingling, and a sensation of walking on a pebble. Ill-fitting shoes and repetitive stress on the feet are often contributing factors.

What Should I Do?

If you experience numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, it is essential to take appropriate action:

Consult a Healthcare Professional

If the numbness or tingling persists or worsens, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your symptoms, perform necessary tests, and provide an accurate diagnosis. Prompt medical attention is particularly crucial if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes or if the symptoms significantly impact your daily life.

Address Underlying Conditions

If an underlying condition, such as diabetes or arthritis, is causing the numbness or tingling, it is important to manage and treat that condition. This may involve lifestyle changes, medication, or other interventions as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Modify Activities

If repetitive hand or foot movements contribute to the numbness or tingling, modifying these activities can help alleviate symptoms. Taking breaks, using ergonomic equipment, and practicing proper posture can all make a difference.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

For individuals experiencing numbness or tingling in the feet, wearing properly fitting shoes with adequate support can provide relief. Avoiding high heels and tight shoes can help prevent or alleviate symptoms associated with conditions like Morton’s neuroma.

Manage Stress

Stress can exacerbate symptoms of numbness or tingling. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies can help alleviate these symptoms.


Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet can be caused by various factors, including carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, Raynaud’s disease, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and Morton’s neuroma. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Addressing underlying conditions, modifying activities, wearing appropriate footwear, and managing stress can all contribute to alleviating these symptoms. By taking proactive steps, you can regain comfort and function in your hands and feet.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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