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Understanding Numbness: Definition, symptoms, causes and treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Numbness can be caused by sitting in one position for an extended period of time or sleeping on your arm. For instance, if you remain in one position for too long, your leg may go to sleep due to Numbness (NMB). This is often just temporary, and most of the time non life-threatening. However, you should consult a doctor if these symptoms persist for a long period, get worse, or impair your everyday activities. This article discusses NMB, its causes, symptoms, and treatments.




What is Numbness?

Numbness or paresthesia is defined as a complete or partial loss of sensation in your body. This could be a sign of neurological impairment. It may appear along a single nerve on one side of the body or symmetrically on both sides. 

Nerves outside the brain and spinal cord are usually affected by NMB, which typically results in a lack of sensation in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Life-threatening conditions like strokes or tumours are rarely the cause of NMB or NMB associated with pain or other unpleasant symptoms.

Tingling and Numbness are types of temporary paresthesia. These sensations are common after sitting or standing in one posture or after wearing tight clothing for an extended period of time. This exerts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, causing a reduced sensation.

How is Numbness diagnosed?

To ascertain the exact cause of Numbness, your doctor may go for a physical examination. The doctor may ask you about your medical history and symptoms. You must disclose all the detailed information pertaining to your recent infections, injuries, vaccines, and prescribed drugs that you are currently taking, along with the OTC medications and supplements you are taking.

Your doctor might recommend extra tests if a physical exam reveals something concerning, which may include the following.

  • Blood tests include complete blood count, electrolyte panel, thyroid function test, kidney function test, blood glucose measurement, and vitamin B12 test 

  • Toxicological tests

  • Nerve conduction investigations 

  • Lumbar puncture test

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography Scan (CT scan) to see the brain more clearly and find a possible tumour or signs of stroke.

Treatment of Numbness 

Treatment of Numbness and tingling depends on the cause of your ailment. The objective of treatment is to treat the underlying disease that is causing the Numbness. Based on the underlying disease and the nerves affected, your doctor will suggest the best treatment for you. Some common treatment options for NMB may include the following.

  • Multiple sclerosis: Niacin or vitamin B3 can help alleviate inflammation and NMB. In severe and painful cases, a small course of corticosteroids may be used to promote healing by lowering inflammation. 

  • Transverse myelitis: Pain relievers, antivirals, immunoglobulin, and plasma exchange treatment

  • Meningitis: Corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and antibiotics

  • Diabetic neuropathy: Physical exercise, healthy diet, regular diabetic treatment

  • Tumours: Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy

Home remedies to Numbness

The following are some natural cures for unpleasant NMB.

  • Take enough rest helps to cure conditions like nerve pressure that create NMB in the legs and feet

  • Consume a low-fat, fibre-rich diet with lots of fruits and vegetables

  • Limit salt (sodium) intake

  • Maintain healthy body weight and Body Mass Index

  • Follow at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise

  • Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking

  • Consume supplements or foods high in foods with vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium

  • Receive psychotherapy

  • Manage stress

When to Visit a Doctor?

Occasional Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations are common and may not require a doctor’s intervention. But, if the tingling and NMB are persistent, happen without a valid reason, or go along with any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor right away.

  • Fatigue

  • Vision problems

  • Muscle weakness and cramps

  • Bladder and bowel problems

  • Pain

  • Intense anxiety

  • Back or neck pain

  • Reduced appetite

  • Confusion, slurred speech, or difficulty speaking

  • Chest discomfort

  • Excruciating headaches, abrupt fever

  • Convulsions, nausea, vomiting

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here’s a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding Numbness.


How is Numbness treated?

Treatments for temporary NMB may include rest, applying ice packs on the affected area, usage of properly fitting socks, topical creams and gels, supplements, wrist braces, over-the-counter pain medications, and physical therapies.

When should I be concerned if I feel numb?

You should get concerned when you experience frequent Numbness episodes followed by fatigue, vision problems, muscle weakness and cramps, bladder and bowel problems, back or neck pain, reduced appetite, confusion, slurred speech, difficulty speaking, or convulsions.

What is the reason for Numbness in the hands and legs?

The main reasons for Numbness in the hands and legs include peripheral neuropathy and chronic high blood sugar levels.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Numbness is also written as NMB in this article.


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