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Numbness – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

NUMBNESS

What is Numbness?

A loss of sensation or feeling in a specific part of the body is referred to as numbness. It could be either whole or partial. Although it can be a symptom of a variety of health conditions, it generally signals a dysfunction with the body’s nerves. The majority of numbness cases are minor and do not cause serious effects.

Numbness can strike both sides of the body equally or a single nerve on one side of the body. Numbness is an abnormal sensation that can affect any part of your body, but it is most commonly felt in the fingers, hands, feet, arms and legs.

Nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord are typically affected by numbness, which results in a loss of sensation in the arms, legs, hands and feet.

Causes of Numbness

Some drugs can produce numbness and tingling. Sitting or standing in one position for an extended period of time or falling asleep on your arm are all important reasons that might induce numbness.

Some of the paramount causes of numbness include:

Collapsed backbone due to osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin, brittle and weak. During exercise, the weakened bones can collapse, resulting in a spinal fracture. These compression fractures can cause a lot of discomfort and change the structure and strength of the spine permanently.

Compressed spinal cord

A disorder that exerts pressure on your spinal cord causes spinal cord compression. Symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the arms, hands, legs or feet might appear gradually or suddenly.

Ruptured or Herniated disc

A herniated disc is an injury caused in the spine. Your spine is made up of a set of bones that go from the base of your skull to your tailbone. Disks are spherical cushions that sit between your vertebrae. The discs serve as shock absorbers between your bones, helping you to bend and move freely.

A herniated disc occurs when one of these discs’ tears or leaks. A ruptured or bulging disc is the other name for a herniated disc. Herniated discs usually heal on their own with easy home-care procedures.

Pinched nerve due to arthritis

Inflammatory joint swelling and rheumatoid vasculitis are the two common disorders that cause pinched nerves. Arthritis can put a strain on a nerve.

Symptoms of numbness

Numbness occurs due to various reasons. However, you can proactively figure out numbness problems and their complications by observing some signs and symptoms. The following are some of the commonly known symptoms of numbness.

Diabetes

Numbness is the most prevalent and worrisome symptom of diabetic nerve damage. It causes loss of sensation. People who lose sensation on their feet are more likely to develop diabetes. Numbness is also a sign of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Due to this, you won’t be able to feel your feet when walking. Your hands or feet may tingle or burn at other times.

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is when one or more nerves are damaged causing problems like numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain in the affected area. Neuropathies commonly begin in the hands and feet and go on to affect other areas of the body.

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms may improve or disappear with time, but in some cases they never do.

Migraine

Numbness, which is generally felt as tingling in one hand or on one side of your face may extend slowly along a leg to cause a migraine aura.

Hand numbness is a common symptom of migraines. If you incur frequent headaches and numb hands, you should consult a doctor because you may be suffering from hemiplegic migraine.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

Raynaud’s illness causes numbness and coldness in some parts of your body such as fingers and toes. Raynaud’s illness shrinks tiny arteries that feed blood to the skin by restricting blood flow to the affected areas.

 Raynaud’s syndrome is frequent and normally does not cause serious difficulties,it can cause skin ulcers . Also it can be due to serious diseases like Systemic lupuserythrmatosus and Scleroderma.  You can cure the symptoms by staying warm.

Multiple sclerosis

The protective covering on nerve fibres in the central nervous system (myelin) causes multiple sclerosis. This causes a lesion that can cause symptoms like numbness, pain or tingling in different sections of the body.

The initial sign of multiple sclerosis is an indication of nerve damage sensation. It usually affects one side of the body and occurs in the face, arms or legs.

Stroke

Strokes usually strike without warning. Some people may experience transient numbness or weakness in one arm or leg. They may also experience speech, vision or balance problems before the stroke occurs.

The major cause of numbness is the inability of the brain to process sensory data and comprehend sensory information from the skin.

Seizures

Numbness, tingling, crawling sensations and “pins and needles” sensations are all common symptoms of sensory seizures.

Hardening of the arteries

You may experience problems like abrupt numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, slurred speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye and drooping muscles in your face if you have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the arteries leading to your brain.

Treatments of Numbness

Sitting continuously in one position exerts too much pressure on the nerves and restricts blood flow to the legs and feet. Long-term or inexplicable numbness could indicate the presence of a medical problem.

Conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, peripheral artery disease or fibromyalgia can cause long-term numbness or tingle in the legs and feet.

Some of the widely recommended treatments for numbness include the following treatments,

Nerve pain medications

Nerve pain can be treated with a range of medications in addition to traditional pain killers. Nerve pain drugs won’t make the pain go away completely, but it might help to reduce the intensity of pain.

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants were created to block pain impulses in the nerves. This medication is given for up to three to four weeks. In most cases, your doctor will begin with a low dose and gradually raise it.

Antidepressants

Certain antidepressants can also aid with nerve pain management. Patients who suffer from depression and chronic pain may have a synergistic effect. Antidepressants can help with both chronic pain and depression.

Some of the antidepressant medications are nortriptyline, amitriptyline and doxepin. These medicines are prescribed at lower doses for pain than they are for depression.

Controlling blood sugar in diabetes patients

You can control the blood sugar level of a person by adapting to the following ways:

  • Hydrate your body well
  • Have control over carbs
  • Make sure to do exercise regularly
  • Monitor and control stress levels
  • Eat high fibre rich foods

Physical therapy exercises

Your doctor or physician may insist you to perform physical therapy exercises to relieve your numbness problems. Some of the widely recommended physical therapy exercises are

Hamstring stretch

The hamstrings are four muscles located behind the leg that help to bend the knee and pull the hip backwards. Hamstring stretch helps to foster knee and hip muscles.

Pectoralis stretch

Pectoralis stretch strengthens the shoulders and provides more flexibility to your hands and shoulders. You can try this stretching when you experience numbness in your shoulders.

Squats

Squats

Squats are an excellent functional workout for strengthening your hips and legs and allowing you to stand and walk longer.

Diagnosis of Numbness

Blood Tests

Simple blood tests such as a complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic profile, measurements of erythrocyte sedimentation rate and fasting blood glucose are used to assess a patient with peripheral neuropathy.

Imaging tests

X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves), radio waves, and radioactive chemicals are all used in imaging examinations.

Nerve condition

The speed at which an electrical impulse goes through your nerve is determined by a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test. This examination is also known as a nerve conduction study (NCS). NCV test can be used to detect nerve numbness.

Electromyography

Electromyography (EMG) is a test that evaluates the health of muscles and nerve cells. Nerve dysfunction and muscle dysfunction problems are all shown through electromyography.

When should I call the doctor?

It’s critical to figure out what’s causing your hands to numb. Consult your doctor if your numbness persists or extends to other parts of your body. You can also consult your doctor under the following circumstances:

  • When your numbness worsens and continues
  • Numbness spreads to other sections of the body
  • Affects either side of the body
  • Affects only a portion of your hand such as a finger.

Prevention of Numbness

You can prevent or possibly protect yourself from numbness problems by following the underlying measures:

Plenty of rest

Rest helps to relax, rejuvenate and regain strength. Proper rest is enough to lead a healthy life and may avoid complications such as numbness and tingling.

Eat a Healthy Diet

A balanced diet comprises lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. eating a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet helps to build strong bones, protecting the heart and preventing serious diseases in future.

Avoid too much alcohol

If you don’t quit drinking, your symptoms will certainly get worse and may result in disability, chronic discomfort and arm and leg injury.

Overconsumption of alcohol fastens the bloodstream and makes the person feel inebriated. This can also have the potential to damage nerve terminals and slow brain function.

Summing up

It’s totally common to have temporary numbness in your foot or lower leg after sitting for too long time.

Numbness that is frequent, recurring or persistent could indicate a more serious medical condition. You can easily relieve the problems of numbness with the help of therapy and medication.

FAQ

1.Is numbness a serious problem?

Numbness can occur from a variety of causes. However, the persistence of numbness causes a serious problem and you must consult a neurologist in such cases.

2.How do you cure numbness?

You can cure numbness in the following ways:
1.  Rest
2. Ice can help reduce swelling that can put pressure on nerves
3. Heat
4. Massage
5. Exercise
6. Epsom salt baths

3.When should I be worried about numbness?

Numbness is temporary in most cases. However, you should worry only about the situation when you face frequent numbness.

4.How do you treat numbness?

Numbness can be treated by addressing the source of the condition. If numbness is caused by a condition like diabetes, prescription drugs can help to soothe the inflamed nerves and reduce the severity of the symptoms.

5.What is the reason for numbness in hands and legs?

Long-term high blood sugar levels and peripheral neuropathy are the main reason for the cause of numbness in the hands and legs.

6.How can I reduce numbness?

You can reduce numbness in the following ways:
1.  Exercise
2. Pain relievers
3. Topical therapies
4. Antidepressants with vitamin B-12
5. Anti-epileptic drugs

7.What is the best medicine for numbness?

Gabapentin, pregabalin, carbamazepine, phenytoin, amitriptyline, imipramine and nortriptyline are some of the drugs that are given for treating numbness.

8.Does numbness go away?

Numbness disappears naturally. Frequent numbness may not disappear on its own and in such cases, you should consult your doctor for treatment.

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