Numbness in Feet and Hands – What Could Be a Reason?
Numbness in feet and hands can be encountered frequently. Those who experience the uncomfortable sensation of hands or feet “falling asleep” or going numb due to pressure from certain positions may find that this sensation appears at other times too, when position is not a factor. Injury, for example, can create this sensation. And, it is not uncommon for those with an active infection of shingles to encounter the unpleasant feelings as well. Even migraine headaches can be responsible for numbness in feet and hands. Nutritional deficiencies can even be to blame too. The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that a lack of vitamin B12 and unusual levels of calcium, sodium or potassium can also play a role in contributing to the numbness encountered in the extremities. Further, medications and substances like tobacco and alcohol which can lead to damage to the nerves can also cause sensations of numbness.
Sometimes, bad circulation may simply be to blame. But, the causes of poor circulation are anything but simple. In the mildest forms, the inadequate blood flow throughout the body can be nothing more than a result of a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to a decrease in oxygen providing blood flow. Those who have occupations that require long periods of sitting may encounter numbness in feet periodically as a result of the lack of physical activity. And, lifestyles that are lacking in healthy amounts of physical activity from exercise may also be integral in providing the ideal conditions for poor circulation. The muscles of the lower extremities serve as a secondary pumping mechanism, aimed at helping blood get back up to the heart where it belongs. And, without engaging these multipurpose muscles, bad circulation which can lead to numbness in feet, can occur. Sometimes, underlying health conditions can cause bad circulation such as atherosclerosis. This condition is characterized by the narrowing or hardening of the arteries and results in poor blood circulation. In turn numbness in feet as well as tingling sensations can occur as early symptoms.
Another common cause of symptoms in the feet as well as other parts of the body is a condition that involves nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy. Mayo Clinic explains that this condition can affect various nerves throughout the body, including those that can affect blood flow as well as sensation. This combination effect can lead to numbness in feet in two ways. By affecting circulation, a function that decreases oxygen to an area, numbness and tingling can occur. And, by affecting the motor nerves that control sensation and movement, similar feelings can also present with neuropathy. Other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include muscle weakness and problems related to the bowels and bladder where nerve damage disrupts their muscle function. These combined with numbness in feet are often present in persons suffering from peripheral neuropathy. The condition is very common in persons with diabetes, and in this form, it is referred to as diabetic neuropathy.
And, the elements can play a role as well. While cold hands and feet are not uncommon when exposed to the elements, in some people they can lead to symptoms like numbness. Chilblains is a condition, as explained by Wikipedia, that occurs when the feet are exposed to humidity and cold which can result in tissue injury. It is often confused with the more serious frostbite as well as trench foot. And, Raynaud’s disease, a condition characterized by narrowing blood vessels most notably in the hands but also in the toes and even the nose as well, can also cause cold hands and feet as the disease is brought on by exposure to cold (sometimes stress as well). Along with the sensation of cold, numbness in feet can be a symptom of Raynaud’s disease.
There are numerous reasons why people might encounter a numbing sensation in the extremities. And, it is almost impossible to always pinpoint the exact cause if external stimuli like pressure or cold are not present. If the symptoms are recurring, worsening or unexplainable, it is a good idea to consult with a health care provider to rule out potentially serious causes of the normally non threatening symptom. If health concerns have been ruled out, home care like a foot massage machine, circulation socks and even herbal remedies can be considered if deemed safe by a health care provider to deal with normal occurrences.