wrist injury

Why do I feel numbness in my hands and feet?

Are you experiencing numbness in your hands or feet? Or are you experiencing other strange sensations such as electricity, burning or pins and needles? There are many explanations for these symptoms, many of which involve irritation to the nerves that run through our body.

Our nerves have an important role in relaying information throughout the body by sending sensory signals to the spine and brain. This lets us know when something is hot or cold, sharp or soft, or painful or harmless. Their role also involves sending a motor signal from the brain and spine to the muscles in order to initiate a response such as a muscle contraction. When these nerves become damaged or compressed, these signals can become altered and give us strange sensations.

Neural damage can occur peripherally at the nerves that surround our skin and muscles or centrally to the nerves that line our brain and spinal cord. Knowing which nerves are affected and diagnosing the reason for this neural issue is vital to treating your symptoms and preventing the issue from worsening.

Peripheral nerve issues

When the nerves that supply the hand and foot become damaged or impinged, they can give us those strange sensations over the local skin. This could be for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Neural tension and impingement – sometimes, myofascial tissue can cause tightness along a nerve path and impinge it, leading to reduced neural length and subsequent symptoms.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – the median nerve that runs down the arm into the hand must pass through the carpal tunnel, when this passageway narrows the nerve becomes compressed.
  • Peripheral neuropathy – a class of conditions that damage our peripheral nerves and can cause a variety of symptoms, including weakness, numbness and other strange sensations. These conditions include diabetes, various infections, autoimmune diseases and trauma.
  • Post-surgery – many surgical procedures can cause temporary or even permanent numbness by incidentally damaging the peripheral nerves around the surgical site.

Central nerve issues

Even though we may feel our symptoms in our hands and feet, the issue may actually reside within our brain or spine. There are a number of conditions that can cause this, some of which can be quite severe. These include:

  • Radiculopathy – our spine contains nerve roots that exit and form our peripheral nerves. These can become impinged through disc degeneration, herniation or trauma, causing nerve symptoms in the hands and feet.
  • Migraine with aura – migraines can be quite painful. They can also come with sensory disturbances known as aura. Aura can alter your vision as well as cause tingling or numbness in the face or hands.
  • Multiple Sclerosis – an autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the body. This condition commonly manifests between the ages of 20-40, and as well as causing neurological symptoms, can be quite debilitating.
  • Motor Neuron Disease – a degenerative disease to the motor neurons that can be inherited genetically. This condition worsens over time and can also be extremely debilitating.

Clearly, there are a plethora of causes for numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, many of which can be quite severe. Therefore, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your GP or physiotherapist for a consultation to screen for these issues and start a tailored treatment plan.

Treating numbness with Hoppers Crossing Physio

To discuss your symptoms with the friendly team at Hoppers Physio, call the clinic on (03) 9749 5110 or make an appointment by booking online.