Tingling in the hands or feet can be temporary or associated with nerve damage from an underlying health problem. Several common conditions and autoimmune disorders can cause tingling. Most of us have likely felt a temporary tingling sensation in our hands or feet. This can occur, if we fall deep asleep on our side or sit with our legs crossed for too long. This sensation is referred to as paraesthesia. And the sensation may also be explained as prickling, burning, or “pins and needles” sensation. In addition to tingling, one may also feel numbness, pain, or weakness in or around your hands and feet.
Numerous factors or conditions can cause tingling in your hands or feet. Usually, pressure, trauma or damage to nerves can cause the tingling sensation to happen. Read this article to know about the underlying causes of tingling in the hands and feet.
Potential Causes Of Tingling
Neuropathy develops due to damage to nerves, there are several types of neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy affects the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when nerve damage is caused due to uncontrolled diabetes, which can affect the legs and feet, and sometimes the arm and hands.
In diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage happens due to high blood sugar in the bloodstream, and it also damages the blood vessels that supply your nerves. When nerves don’t get adequate oxygen, they may not function properly.
Generally, vitamin deficiencies are caused when adequate amounts of a particular vitamin are not taken in the meal or due to a condition where the body doesn’t properly absorb the vitamin. Some vitamins are quintessential to the health of nerves, which include:
Vitamin B12: This water-soluble vitamin is required for energy production, it is mainly abundant in meat, dairy, and eggs. Vegans may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement. A shortage of this can cause neurological damage categorised by a tingling sensation in your hands and feet.
Vitamin B 1: It is also known as thiamine, which holds a significant role in nerve impulses and neuron repair. Meat, legumes, whole grains, and nuts are rich sources. People who consume a lot of refined grains may be deficient in vitamin B1. This can cause pain or tingling in the hands and feet.
Vitamin E: Deficiency is more likely to be caused by problems absorbing fat in the gut than lack of vitamin E in the diet. Tingling in hands or feet, and problems with coordination are symptoms associated with vitamin E deficiency. Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and leafy greens are great sources.
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem that develops when median nerve is compressed as it moves around your wrist. This can happen owing to injury, repetitive movements, or inflammatory health problems. Usually, people with carpal tunnel may experience numbness or tingling in the first four fingers of their hand.
When the kidneys are no longer working properly it may result in kidney failure. Comorbid problems like high blood pressure or uncontrolled diabetes may lead to kidney failure. When the kidney fail, fluid and waste products may accumulate in the system leading to nerve damage. Tingling caused due to kidney failure mostly happens in the legs or feet.
Different kind of medications may lead to nerve damage, which may cause one to feel a tingling sensation in your hands, or feet. In fact, it is a common side effect of medication used to treat cancer and HIV.
Other medications that can cause tingling in the hands and feet include:
- Heart or blood pressure drugs
- Anti-infection drugs
The immune system is our body's first line of defence that shields you from foreign invaders. An auto-immune disorder is when the immune system attacks the cells of the system by mistake. Some of the autoimmune disorders include:
This is an autoimmune condition that results in swelling and pain in the joints. It mostly develops in the wrist and hands, but can also affect other areas of the body, including ankles and feet. The inflammation from the condition can put pressure on nerves, leading to tingling.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks the protective covering of nerves-myelin, and this eventually leads to nerve damage. Tingling or numbness in the arms, legs and face is a common sign of MS.
It is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the tissues of the body. It can affect any region of the body, including the nervous system. Tingling in the hands or feet can be caused by adjacent nerves becoming compressed due to inflammation or swelling from lupus.
It is an autoimmune condition that affects the small intestine. Generally, when a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, an autoimmune reaction develops. Few people with celiac disease may have tingling in the hands and feet.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t secrete adequate thyroid hormone. Severe hypothyroidism if left untreated can at times cause damage to nerves, leading to tingling sensations. However, the exact mechanism for how this happens is unknown.
When a person visits a doctor for addressing unexplained tingling in the hands or feet, the healthcare provider may do certain things to confirm a diagnosis.
A complete physical evaluation that includes a neurological exam to examine reflexes and motor or sensory function.
A detailed medical history is taken to know about symptoms, pre-existing conditions and any medications taken by the patient.
Blood work to assess the levels of certain chemicals, vitamin levels, or hormones in your blood, organ function, and blood cell levels.
Imaging tests- X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.
A nerve conduction velocity test or electromyography.
A nerve or skin biopsy.
Generally, the treatment mode is determined by finding out the underlying cause of tingling. Some of the treatment options may include:
Titrating the dosage of a current medication or changing to an alternative medication, if possible.
Recommending dietary supplementation for vitamin deficiencies.
Modifying diabetes management.
Treating underlying conditions like an infection, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.
Surgery to correct the nerve compression.
Prescribing over the counter (OTC) pain relievers to help with any pain that may occur with the tingling.Lifestyle modifications like getting adequate rest, having a wholesome diet, regular exercise, and limiting alcohol intake.