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Diabetes

Nerve damage caused by high blood sugar is the most common cause of numb or tingly hands and feet. Untreated diabetes may have other symptoms, too. You might feel thirsty, pee a lot, or your breath may smell fruity. Your doctor can test your blood to see if you have diabetes. If you do, they'll tell you how to slow or stop possible nerve damage, or keep it from getting worse.

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Pregnancy

Your growing baby and the extra fluids that come with pregnancy can press on nerves in your body. This causes numbness and stinging in your arms, hands, and legs. Stretched skin might make your belly feel numb. Wearing a wrist splint at night may help with hand problems. The tingling should go away once you give birth.

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Pinched Nerve

A bulging or slipped disk in your spine can put pressure on the nerves that travel down your legs, causing numb or tingly feet. A pinched nerve in your wrist can make your hands and fingers lose feeling. Your doctor might call it carpal tunnel syndrome. They’ll do tests to find the cause. The doctor may suggest rest, a splint or brace, physical therapy. In some cases, you might need surgery to fix the problem.

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Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, make your immune system attack parts of your own body. This includes your nerves. These conditions may come on quickly or slowly, and recent infections can trigger them. The doctor will check your symptoms and medical history. This will help them figure out what’s happening and try treatments to ease your symptoms.

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Not Enough Vitamins

A lack of vitamins B or E can affect your nerves and other parts of your body. You might not be eating the right foods. Your doctor can give you a blood test to check your vitamin levels. They’ll suggest foods to eat, supplements, or other treatments.

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Medications

Nerve issues are often a side effect of some prescription drugs. Medications for cancer (chemotherapy), HIV or AIDS, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, and certain infections can cause weakness or numbness in your hands and feet. Check with your doctor to see if your medication is to blame. They might be able to switch or change the dosage.

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Infection

Several viral and bacterial infections can damage your nerves and lead to numbing or stabbing pain in your hands and feet. Some of these viruses are HIV, Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr , Hepatitis B and C, West Nile, cytomegalovirus. Your doctor may be able to treat the infection so your symptoms go away.

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Kidney Failure

Your kidneys get rid of toxins in your blood that can hurt nerves. So when your kidneys aren’t working right, your hands and feet may tingle. The two most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure.

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Genetic Disorder

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP) are two genetic disorders that cause numbness in your hands and feet. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease wears away your muscle. You may need physical therapy or special aids to lessen symptoms. HNPP affects your nerves and is more likely to cause numbness and weakness in your arms and legs. Avoiding certain positions can help.

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Tumor

A cluster of abnormal cells (tumor) growing next to or on your nerves can press on them and take away the feeling in your arms and legs. This can happen with cancerous or noncancerous tumors. Tumors in other places could affect your immune system and cause nerve damage. If treatment shrinks the tumor, the symptoms may go away.

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Thyroid Problems

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause pain, burning, and numbness in your hands and feet. This usually happens if your hypothyroidism is severe and you haven’t treated it. Thyroid medication, exercise, and a healthy body weight could help with these symptoms.

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Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Over time, alcohol use can damage your nerves and tissues. Heavy drinking can make your body run low on vitamins like B12 and folate. Both the damage and the lack of vitamins can keep your nerves from working the way they should. That could lead to a loss of feeling in your feet and hands. If you stop drinking, it may fix some of the damage.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/13/2019 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 13, 2019

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SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Peripheral Neuropathy,” “Pinched nerve,” “Hypothyroidism: Can It Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?”

The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy: “Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy,” “Autoimmune Disease,” “Other Drugs,” “Hereditary Disorders,” “Alcohol,” “Toxins.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Changes in Your Body During Pregnancy: Third Trimester.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet.”

Office on Women’s Health: “Autoimmune Diseases.”

Continuum (Minneapolis, Minnesota): “Peripheral Neuropathy Due to Vitamin Deficiency, Toxins, and Medications.”

American Kidney Fund: “Kidney Failure (ESRD) Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.”

American Diabetes Association: “Kidney Disease (Nephropathy).”

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: “Peripheral Neuropathy.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 13, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.