Are you experiencing tingling in your hands and feet?
Have you tried alleviating the discomfort, but nothing really works?
Tingling in the hands or feet is a common problem.
Many factors can trigger tingling sensations, most of which are temporary and should subside on their own.
For example, you might have tweaked something in your sleep.
Any kind of trauma, injury, or pressure to the affected area can damage the nerve and lead to tingling.
Even just sitting in a chair for hours can cause tingling in the hands and feet.
But, when these symptoms become bothersome and don’t go away, it is best to talk to a healthcare provider.
Here, you can learn more about tingly hands and feet, including the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention techniques.
What does tingling in the hands and feet feel like?
Tingling in hands and feet can usually be described as abnormal burning, prickling, or “pins and needles” sensations.
It can also be followed by weakness, partial numbness, discomfort, and aches in or around the affected area.
Numbness or tingling is known as paresthesia. It is often a tell-tale sign that the nerve has become irritated in some way and is starting to send extra signals. Think of the tingling sensation as a roadblock for the nervous system.
When there is nothing getting in the way, electrical impulses can travel along the nerves with ease. But, when there is a blockade, the nervous system can’t carry the electrical impulses as it should. This leads to numbness and tingling in the hands or feet.
Symptoms of tingling in the hands and feet
The tingling in the hands and fingers can be intermittent, start gradually, or wake you up at night. You can experience a gradual onset of prickling sensations or numbness that spreads upward from the affected area.
The tingling in and feet is often accompanied by:
- Muscle weakness
- Hand or feet pain
- Burning sensation
- Heightened sensitivity to touch
- Feeling like the hand or foot has “fallen asleep”
- Reduced coordination
- Throbbing or sharp pain
Some people might develop other symptoms, such as dizziness and tingling hands. These signs can occur due to other medical problems, such as damaged nerves, middle ear inflammation, and ear infection.
If you are dizzy and tingly, you might have low blood pressure, migraine, benign positional vertigo, or other health issues. Talk to a specialist if vertigo has an acute onset or is severe.
What causes tingling in the hands and feet?
There are many causes of numbness and tingling in hands and feet. Some are inconsequential, and others can be serious.
The transient tingling sensations can happen from compromised blood flow, low blood pressure, anxiety, and low blood sugar.
The burning and tingling in hands and feet can also occur due to peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage from injury, or recent surgery.
If the tingling in your feet and hands concerns you, talk to a specialist. Here is what can cause tingling in hands and feet.
1) Pinched nerve
A pinched nerve can cause radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and burning in the hands and feet. Any injury from stretching, constriction, or compression can damage the nerves.
A pinched nerve in the lower back can trigger pain in the legs, bottom, hips, and back. While a pinched nerve in the cervical spine can lead to stiffness, numbness, and ache in the arms and shoulders.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist. It induces tingling in the hands, pain, and numbness.
2) Repetitive strain injury
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is the biggest and most overlooked issue in the modern world.
Any repetitive activity, such as typing, exercising with bad posture, holding tools in an awkward position, working at an assembly line, etc, can cause RSI. And RSI can lead to a tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
3) Thyroid problems
Thyroid issues are known contributors to muscle weakness, aches, and cramps. Hypothyroidism develops when the thyroid hormone is in short supply.
This triggers a domino effect, causing a range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and feet.
The signs of thyroid disease can progress slowly. Talk to a doctor if your thyroid problems interfere with your day-to-day life.
Alcohol can have a direct toxic effect on the nerves. Alcoholics might notice their feet and hands tingling. This is referred to as alcoholic neuropathy.
Research shows that up to 66% of patients with chronic alcohol use disorder can have some form of alcohol neuropathy.
Hypokalemia (low blood potassium) and hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels) can cause tingling hands and feet, which typically happens in anxious people.
Anxiety and panic disorder can also induce paresthesia. When you are feeling overly stressed, anxious, or struggling with crippling anxiety, or panic attack, you can experience burning, pricking, chilling, and tingling in your feet and hands.
Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus can lead to nerve damage. Nerve damage can affect the arms, legs, feet, and hands.
According to multiple large-scale studies, roughly 50% of diabetics can eventually develop neuropathy (nerve damage).
Neuropathy can reduce the sensations in the feet and affect ankle reflexes. But it could also cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
In a study of over 15,000 diabetic patients, the prevalence of loss of vibration, temperature sensation, and pinprick was 49%. The prevalence of painful neuropathic symptoms was 34%.
To avoid diabetes complications, diabetics should stay committed to managing their condition.
If you notice your hands going numb and tingling, especially in the last trimester, then this is a common issue in pregnant women.
The tingling in feet and hands is often due to carpal tunnel and should subside after you deliver.
8) Multiple sclerosis
Tingling hands and feet can be an early sign of multiple sclerosis. It may also come with dizziness, spasms, pain, fatigue, bladder problems, etc.
Some infections can make the nerves inflamed. This inflammation might trigger tingling in the feet and hands. Such infections can include:
- Lyme disease
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C infection
- Hansen’s disease (leprosy)
10) Autoimmune disease
An autoimmune disease could induce tingling in the hands and feet. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus.
11) Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD affects blood flow. Hindered circulation can lead to tingling in the hands and feet.
12) Kidney failure
The kidney disease rate has gone up at an alarming rate. Today more than 15% of Americans have chronic kidney disease (CKD).
CKD can advance to kidney failure, which can cause tingling in hands and feet.
Some drugs can cause needles and pins in hands and feet. These include chemotherapy drugs, NRTIs, blood pressure pills, and others.
Mini strokes (transient ischemic attacks) can cause tingling, weakness, and numbness in the extremities. This happens when there is a blood clump that interferes with blood flow.
15) Ganglion cyst
A ganglion cyst is typically painless. But, if the cyst is adding pressure to a nerve, it can lead to tingling and painful sensations in different areas of the body.
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What vitamin deficiencies cause tingling in the hands and feet?
The body requires a sufficient amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function. When there is a vitamin deficiency or mineral deficiency, you can develop tingling in your feet and hands.
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Vitamin E
- Magnesium deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
Based on statistics, a risk of deficiency in vitamins B12, C, and D was found in 5.0%, 6.2%, and 8.9% of the American population. Less than 1% were at risk of vitamin E deficiency.
Tingling in feet and arms can be an early sign of thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1). Folate deficiency (vitamin B9) can lead to tingling, weakness, numbness, impaired sense of taste, etc.
In case of vitamin deficiencies or a shortage of minerals, a doctor can suggest adequate supplementation to mitigate the symptoms.
Diagnosing tingling in the hands and feet
A doctor will thoroughly evaluate your overall health. They can test for any signs of vitamin deficiencies, kidney problems, metabolic disorders, recent injuries, or surgeries.
For that, you might need to do a blood test, cerebrospinal fluid exam, EMG, or other tests like MRI or CT scan.
Want to know how to relieve tingling in your hands? Treating the cause of the tingling can alleviate the problem.
Talk to a healthcare provider if the tingling in both hands and feet doesn’t go away. They might suggest some painkillers.
What you can do is:
- Get a massage
- Apply warm compress
- Take an Epsom salt bath
- Change your footwear
- Wear wrist support (i.e. splints)
Here are some prevention strategies for tingling in hands and feet:
- Consume a balanced diet with leafy greens, fruits, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, like sunflower seeds or peanuts
- Control your diabetes (if you have it)
- Do regular stretches
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Quit smoking
- Don’t aggravate your condition
Pain is the body saying something is wrong. Although tingling in hands and feet is often a temporary problem, if it lasts a long time, talk to a specialist. You might need proper care and medicine.