As many as 50% of people diagnosed with diabetes experience something called diabetic neuropathy. It’s a condition where people experience tingling in their hands and arms. However, diabetes isn’t the only cause of this type of physical sensation. Quite often patients with diabetic neuropathy may have also pressure on the nerve in a localized area, such as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – causing the bottoms of your feet to feel numb or tingly or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – causing you fingers in your hand to feel the same way. So if you are not certain if you have diabetic neuropathy or a compressive neuropathy or both, read on, and find out how we can help you at Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas and Foot Surgery Specialists of Texas.
Do you ever feel tingling in your hands and arms? You might be wondering what causes this feeling of numbness or pins and needles — the answer could be anything from mild carpal tunnel syndrome to a symptom of chronic nerve issues.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to learn about these tingly sensations and know how to handle them properly.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at common causes for hand and arm tingling, as well as steps that may help relieve symptoms until you can speak with your doctor. Excitingly enough, we have some simple solutions and treatments for you, too.
What Do Numbness and Tingling Feel Like?
Let’s start by addressing one question we get a lot. What do numbness and tingling feel like? Is it pins and needs for everybody or can it simply feel like your extremities have fallen asleep?
Numbness and tingling in the hands and arms can be strange sensations. It’s often described as a tingling tingle or pins-and-needles feeling that ranges from mildly uncomfortable to intense and painful.
Many people compare it to an electric shock, itching, or burning sensation. These sensations are usually temporary but may last for days or weeks depending on the severity of the condition causing them.
Overall, we understand that numbness and tingling can be scary. However, they’re typically not cause for major concern. If you experience these sensations, it is important, though, to determine what is causing it and talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Potential Causes of Tingling In Hands and Arms
We mentioned that a tingling sensation or a numb feeling typically aren’t cause for major concern. While they are concerning, and somewhat uncomfortable, these sensations are typically due to treatable conditions you can take care of if caught early on.
While you’ll need to visit a specialist to determine what’s causing tingling in your hands and arms, here are some potential causes. keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Sometimes, your hand or arm has simply fallen asleep. If you’re worried bout a numb feeling, schedule a consultation with your local clinic.
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects people with diabetes, causing nerve damage and numbness throughout the body, particularly in the extremities. This often results in a feeling of tingling or prickling in the hands and arms. However, the condition can also lead to feelings of:
- Sharp pain
The reason diabetic neuropathy causes these symptoms is damage to the nerve cells caused by chronically high blood sugar levels. As nerves attempt to repair themselves, they send out signals that create sensations such as tingling or pain while regenerating.
Ultimately, you can manage diabetic neuropathy through regular care of diabetes such as diet and exercise, keeping blood glucose levels within the target range, and receiving prompt medical attention if any symptoms arise.
Nerve Entrapment Syndromes
Nerve entrapment syndromes are a group of nerve injuries caused by pressure on the nerve fibers. The most well-known of these syndromes is carpal tunnel syndrome, in which nerve compression around the wrist causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and arms.
The tingling sensation people experience from nerve entrapment is usually a sign that the nerve has been damaged. Other nerve entrapment syndromes that cause tingling include:
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow
- Peroneal nerve entrapment at the knee
- Radial nerve entrapment at the shoulder
Treatment for nerve entrapment syndromes depends on their severity. It can range from simple home remedies, splinting, bracing, therapy, and most of the time surgery to alleviate the cause of the pressure on the nerve. If you need surgery, Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas performa no-stitch surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at our clinic in Houston.
Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to tingling in the hands and arms. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can cause these vitamin-deprived nerves to send out sensations of numbness and even pain.
Vitamin B6, otherwise known as pyridoxine, is an essential vitamin that our bodies need for proper nerve functioning. Without proper levels of vitamin B6, our nerves can convey a variety of abnormal symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the extremities like in the hands and arms.
Similarly, your body also needs vitamin B12 for healthy nerve cells and low amounts can also lead to these tingling sensations or numbness in hands and other extremities. If you have a B12 deficiency you’ll also likely experience extreme fatigue and muscle weakness.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its central nervous system. This leads to damage in the protective coating that surrounds the nerves. That can lead to multiple symptoms, including tingling in your hands and arms.
There are multiple levels of severity for multiple sclerosis. So, each patient experiences different symptoms that can range from physical issues such as fatigue and balance problems to mental issues like depression and anxiety.
While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis yet, many treatments are available to help reduce the frequency of flare-ups and manage symptoms. The treatment for this time of tingling sensation will be different from treatment for a tingling sensation caused by another condition, though. So, it’s best to see a doctor first.
Toxins can cause a range of harmful effects on the body. This includes tingling in the hands and arms. Just how do toxins get inside your system, though? Toxins often enter the body through food or air and are then stored in fat cells.
When toxins accumulate over time, they can irritate sensory nerves and interfere with proper nerve signals. An accumulation of toxins can cause muscles to weaken, leading to muscle paralysis and neurological disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome which includes symptoms such as tingling in hands and arms.
That’s why it’s so important to detoxify your body regularly. Doing so can help you avoid any long-term harm caused by toxins and to ensure the healthy functioning of the nervous system.
Did you know there are many medications that can cause numbness and tingling of the extremities. If you are placed on a medication, it is always best to read if that medication has the side effect of causing numbness or tingling which we sometimes refer to as paresthesias. Topomax is a common medication that has that side effect. Sometimes just stopping the medication (under medical advice and supervision) will help alleviate those symptoms.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Numbness and Tingling?
With a variety of causes, how do doctors diagnose the cause of tingling in fingers, arms, or hands? It depends on what your symptoms are and the experience of your doctor. Typically, they’ll do one or more of the following.
The first thing a doctor will likely do if you experience numbness and tingling is to order blood tests. This is pretty standard as blood tests provide an overview of your overall health. In this context, blood tests can show if any levels may be too high or too low, pointing the doctor toward possible causes.
For example, blood tests may indicate:
- Nutrient imbalances
- A thyroid disorder
- Autoimmune diseases
Additionally, blood tests can reveal if an infection is causing the tingling symptoms. Armed with results from blood tests, doctors can recommend necessary treatments and lifestyle changes that will reduce the uncomfortable tingling sensation for you.
Nerve Conduction Velocity
A nerve conduction velocity test is a type of medical test used to measure how quickly nerve signals travel through your body. This information can help a doctor diagnose the cause of tingling in your hands and arms.
During the test, nerve signals are sent out with electrical stimulation and nerve responses are then measured at multiple locations along their pathway. By taking the time it takes for the nerve signals to travel, doctors can determine if nerve signals are slow or normal, providing clues on what might be causing tingling in your hands or arms.
The results of this test can help your doctor determine which treatment plan will work best for you.
Finally, your doctor might also order an electromyogram. An electromyogram, also known as an EMG, measures the electric activity of your muscles. Some doctors order one when they’re trying to diagnose what could be causing tingling in your hands and arms. The test can help reveal underlying problems beyond symptoms like tingling or decreased muscle strength.
During this test, tiny needles are placed into various parts of the body. This allows the doctor to measure and record how your nerves and muscles interact electromagnetically. An electromyogram takes all of this data and helps to identify any potential neurological issues causing these symptoms.
What Is the Treatment for Numbness in Hands and Arms?
Now that you understand some potential causes and methods for diagnosis, what are your treatment options? It will ultimately depend on the cause of the numbness or tingling. However, common treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- Medications such as anti-seizure drugs or antidepressants
- Nerve stimulation
- Lifestyle modifications like avoiding activities that induce pain and controlling stress levels
- Wearing a splint to relieve pressure on the affected area
- Possibly surgery
No matter which treatment is suggested by your doctor, it’s important to follow their instructions closely for optimal results.
What to Know About Carpal Tunnel Surgery
If you end up needing surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and the tingling it causes, what can you expect? It depends on the severity of your carpal tunnel and the doctors you’re working with.
At the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we offer a no-stitch procedure that is minimally invasive and heals faster compared to traditional surgery. Our branded endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedure does not require sutures as the incisions are small. Recovery time can take about a week and patients may feel some soreness in their palm post-op.
Thankfully, most people do not need therapy afterward and can continue treatment from home. So, rest assured that there are several options available. Not all of them require extensive surgery with weeks or months of downtime, recovery, and physical therapy.
When Should You Worry About Tinging in Your Hands and Arms?
In general, tingling and numbness can also be caused by poor circulation due to sitting in one position for too long or carrying heavy objects. If this is the case, engaging in regular exercise and activities such as yoga are great ways to promote good circulation and reduce tingling or numbness.
Speak With a Hand Specialist
At Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we offer advanced diagnosis and treatments for hand pain and other hand-related conditions. This includes helping you with tingling in your hands and arms.
We specialize in offering minimally invasive medical techniques that can help improve your condition. We do so while reducing costs for you as much as possible. Our excellent team of orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are ready to provide you with a personalized care plan.
Not sure if we’re close to you? We have five convenient locations in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, and Baytown. If you’re experiencing tingling in your hands or arms don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to help.