We’ve all likely felt a temporary tingling sensation in our hands or feet. It can happen if we fall asleep on our arm or sit with our legs crossed for too long. You may also see this sensation referred to as paresthesia.
The feeling may also be described as a prickling, burning, or “pins and needles” sensation. In addition to tingling, you may also feel numbness, pain, or weakness in or around your hands and feet.
Tingling in your hands or feet can be caused by a variety of factors or conditions. Generally speaking, pressure, trauma, or damage to nerves can cause the tingling to occur.
Below, we’ll explore 25 potential causes of a tingling sensation in your hands or feet.
1. Diabetic neuropathy
Neuropathy occurs as a result of damage to nerves. While there are many types of neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy can affect the hands and feet.
In diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage occurs due to high blood sugar in the bloodstream. In addition to damaging nerves, it can also damage the blood vessels that supply your nerves. When nerves don’t receive enough oxygen, they may not function well.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that up to half of people that have diabetes have peripheral neuropathy.
2. Vitamin deficiency
Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by not having enough of a specific vitamin in your diet, or by a condition in which the vitamin isn’t absorbed properly.
Some vitamins are important to the health of your nerves. Examples include:
A deficiency in these vitamins can cause a tingling sensation to occur in your hands or feet.
3. Pinched nerve
You can get a pinched nerve when there’s too much pressure on a nerve from the surrounding tissues. For example, things like injury, repetitive movements, and inflammatory conditions can cause a nerve to become pinched.
A pinched nerve can occur in many areas of the body and can affect the hands or feet, causing tingling, numbness, or pain.
A pinched nerve in your lower spine may cause these sensations to radiate down the back of your leg and into your foot.
4. Carpal tunnel
Carpal tunnel is a common condition that happens when your median nerve is compressed as it moves through your wrist. This can occur due to injury, repetitive motions, or inflammatory conditions.
People with carpal tunnel may feel numbness or tingling in the first four fingers of their hand.
5. Kidney failure
When your kidneys aren’t functioning correctly, fluid and waste products may accumulate in your body, leading to nerve damage. Tingling due to kidney failure often occurs in the legs or feet.
The swelling that occurs throughout the body during pregnancy can put pressure on some of your nerves.
Because of this, you may feel tingling in your hands and feet. The symptoms typically disappear after pregnancy.
7. Medication use
A variety of medications may cause nerve damage, which can cause you to feel a tingling sensation in your hands or feet. In fact, it can be a common side effect of medications used to treat cancer (chemotherapy) and HIV.
Other examples of medications that can cause tingling in the hands and feet include:
- heart or blood pressure drugs, such as amiodarone or hydralazine
- anti-infection drugs, such as metronidazole and dapsone
- anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin
Normally, your immune system protects your body from foreign invaders. An autoimmune disease is when your immune system attacks the cells of your body by mistake.
8. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes swelling and pain in the joints. It often occurs in the wrists and hands, but can also affect other parts of the body, including the ankles and feet.
The inflammation from the condition can place pressure on nerves, leading to tingling.
9. Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the protective covering of your nerves (myelin). This can lead to nerve damage.
Feeling numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, and face is a common symptom of MS.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the tissues of the body. It can affect any part of the body, including the nervous system.
Tingling in the hands or feet can be caused by nearby nerves becoming compressed due to inflammation or swelling from lupus.
11. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. When a person with celiac disease ingests gluten, an autoimmune reaction occurs.
Some people with celiac disease can have symptoms of neuropathy, including tingling in the hands and feet. These symptoms may also occur in people without any gastrointestinal symptoms.
An infection occurs when disease-causing organisms invade your body. Infections can be viral, bacterial, or fungal in origin.
12. Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that’s transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. If left untreated, the infection can begin to affect the nervous system and can cause tingling in the hands and feet.
Typically, shingles only affects a small part of one side of your body, which can include the hands, arms, legs, and feet. You may feel a tingling or numbness in the affected area.
14. Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis C infection may also cause peripheral neuropathy, although how this happens is largely .
In some cases, infection with hepatitis B or C can lead to a condition called cryoglobulinemia, which is when certain proteins in the blood clump together in the cold, causing inflammation. One of the symptoms of this condition is numbness and tingling.
15. HIV or AIDS
HIV is a virus that attacks the cells of the immune system, increasing the risk for acquiring infections as well as some cancers. When untreated, the infection can progress to the last stage of HIV infection, AIDS, in which the immune system is severely damaged.
HIV can affect the nervous system and in some cases this can include the nerves of the hands and feet, where tingling, numbness, and pain may be felt.
Leprosy is a bacterial infection that can affect the skin, nerves, and respiratory tract.
When the nervous system is affected, you may feel a tingling or numbness in the affected body part, which can include the hands and feet.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.
Although uncommon, severe hypothyroidism that has gone untreated can sometimes cause damage to nerves, leading to tingling sensations or numbness. The mechanism for how exactly this happens is unknown.
18. Toxin exposure
Various toxins and chemicals are considered to be neurotoxins, meaning that they’re harmful to your nervous system. Exposure can cause a variety of symptoms, including tingling in your hands or feet.
Some examples of toxins include:
- heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, and arsenic
- acrylamide, a chemical used for many industrial purposes
- ethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze
- hexacarbons, which can be found in some solvents and glues
Fibromyalgia includes a group of symptoms, such as:
- widespread muscle pain
- changes in mood
Some people with fibromyalgia may experience other symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and tingling in the hands and feet. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown.
20. Ganglion cyst
A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled lump that most frequently occurs at joints, particularly the wrist. They can apply pressure to nearby nerves, leading to a tingling sensation in the hand or fingers, although the cyst itself is painless.
The cause of these cysts is unknown, although joint irritation may play a role.
21. Cervical spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis occurs due to age-related changes in the part of your spine that’s found in your neck (cervical spine). These changes can include things like herniation, degeneration, and osteoarthritis.
Sometimes these changes can put pressure on the spinal cord, which can lead to worsening neck pain as well as symptoms like tingling or numbness in the arms and legs.
22. Raynaud’s phenomenon
Raynaud’s phenomenon affects blood flow to the arms and legs.
The blood vessels in these areas get smaller in an extreme reaction to cold or stress. This reduction in blood flow can cause numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes.
23. Alcohol-related neuropathy
Long-term alcohol misuse can lead to the development of peripheral neuropathy, which can lead to tingling in the hands and feet.
The condition progresses gradually and the mechanism that causes it is unknown, although vitamin or nutritional deficiency play a role.
Vasculitis occurs when your blood vessels become inflamed. There are many different types of vasculitis and overall, what causes it isn’t completely understood.
Because inflammation can lead to changes in blood vessels, blood flow to an affected area may become restricted. In some types of vasculitis, this may lead to nerve problems, such as tingling, numbness, and weakness.
25. Guillain-Barre syndrome
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare nervous system disorder in which your immune system attacks part of your nervous system. What exactly causes the condition is currently unknown.
Guillain-Barre syndrome can sometimes follow after an illness. Unexplained tingling and possibly pain in the hands and feet can be one of the first symptoms of the syndrome.
If you visit your doctor for unexplained tingling in your hands or feet, there are a variety of things that they may do to help them make a diagnosis.
Some examples include:
- A physical exam, which may also include a neurological exam to observe your reflexes and motor or sensory function.
- Taking your medical history, during which they’ll ask about things like your symptoms, preexisting conditions you may have, and any medications you’re taking.
- Blood testing, which can allow your doctor to assess things like the levels of certain chemicals, vitamin levels, or hormones in your blood, your organ function, and your blood cell levels.
- Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.
- Testing your nerve function using methods such as nerve conduction velocity tests or electromyography.
- A nerve or skin biopsy.
The treatment for tingling in your hands and feet will be determined by what’s causing your condition. After your diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Some examples of treatment options may include one or several of the following:
- adjusting the dosage of a current medication or switching to an alternative medication, if possible
- dietary supplementation for vitamin deficiencies
- keeping diabetes managed
- treating underlying conditions, such as an infection, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus
- surgery to correct nerve compression or to remove a cyst
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to help with any pain that may occur with the tingling
- prescription medications for pain and tingling if OTC medications don’t work
- lifestyle changes like being sure to take care of your feet, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and limiting your alcohol consumption
There are a variety of things that can cause tingling in your hands and feet. These things can include but aren’t limited to diabetes, an infection, or a pinched nerve.
If you’re experiencing unexplained tingling in your hands or feet, you should be sure to see your doctor. An early diagnosis of what may be causing your condition is important for both addressing your symptoms and preventing additional nerve damage from occurring.