Numbness/weakness

Numbness and tingling are abnormal sensations that can occur anywhere in your body, but they are often felt in your fingers, hands, feet, arms, or legs.
There are many possible causes of numbness and tingling, including:
  • Sitting or standing in the same position for a long time
  • Injuring a nerve (a neck injury may cause you to feel numbness anywhere along your arm or hand, while a low back injury can cause numbness or tingling down the back of your leg)
  • Pressure on the nerves of the spine, such as from a herniated disk
  • Pressure on peripheral nerves from enlarged blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue, or infection
  • Shingles or herpes
  • Lack of blood supply to an area, such as from frostbite, or vessel inflammation
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in your body
  • A lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamin
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Nerve damage due to lead, alcohol, or tobacco, or from chemotherapy drugs
  • Radiation therapy
  • Animal bites
  • Insect, tick, mite, and spider bites
  • Seafood toxins

 

Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination, carefully checking your nervous system.

Medical history questions may include:
  • What part or parts of your body have numbness or tingling? Your trunk? Your legs or feet? Your arms, hands, or fingers?
  • Which side of your body is involved?
  • Which area of that body part? For example, is your inner thigh, calf, or foot affected? Your palm, fingers, thumb, wrist, or forearm?
  • Does the numbness or tingling affect your face? Around your eyes? Your cheeks? Around your mouth? Is one or both sides of your face involved?
  • Does the part of your body with numbness or tingling change colors? Does it feel cold or warm?
  • Do you have other abnormal sensations?
  • Are you unaware of your body on the affected side?
  • How long have you had the numbness or tingling?
  • When did it start?
  • Does anything make it worse, such as exercise or standing for long periods of time?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?

Your provider may also ask you questions to determine your risk for stroke, thyroid disease, or diabetes, as well as questions about your work habits and medicines.