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Tingling in Hands and Feet

Causes of Tingling in the Hands and Feet continued...

Toxins. These include heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and thallium, and some industrial and environmental chemicals. They also include certain medications -- especially chemotherapy drugs used for lung cancer -- but also some antiviral and antibiotic drugs.

Infections. These include Lyme disease, shingles (varicella-zoster), cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex, and HIV/AIDS.

Autoimmune diseases. These include Guillain-Barre syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Inherited disorders. These include a group of disorders collectively known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Injury. Often related to trauma, nerves can be compressed, crushed, or damaged, resulting in nerve pain. Examples include nerve compression caused by a herniated disc or dislocated bone.

Diagnosis of Tingling Hands and Feet

If you seek care for your tingling hands or feet, your health care provider will do a physical exam and take an extensive medical history addressing your symptoms, work environment, social habits (including alcohol use), toxic exposure, risk of HIV or other infectious diseases, and family history of neurological disease.

He or she also may perform additional tests such as:

  • Blood tests. These can include tests to detect diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, liver or kidney dysfunction, other metabolic disorders, and signs of abnormal immune system activity.
  • An examination of cerebrospinal fluid. This can identify antibodies associated with peripheral neuropathy.
  • An electromyogram (EMG), a test of the electrical activity of muscle
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV)

Other tests may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Nerve biopsy
  • Skin biopsy to look at nerve fiber endings

 

Treatments for Tingling Hands and Feet

Successful treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of the tingling. As long as the peripheral nerve cells have not been killed, they have the ability to regenerate.

Although no treatments are available for inherited types of peripheral neuropathy, many of the acquired types can be improved with treatment. For example, good blood sugar control in diabetes can slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy; vitamin supplementation can correct peripheral neuropathy in people with vitamin deficiencies.

General lifestyle recommendations include maintaining an optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, following a doctor-supervised exercise program, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption. Recommendations also include quitting smoking, which constricts blood supply to blood vessels supplying nutrients to peripheral nerves.

In some cases, tingling and other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may be reduced with prescriptions originally developed for treating seizures and depression.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on August 31, 2012

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