Health Information Library

All the content of the library is provided from Mayo Clinic in English.
As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, RSPP has special access to Mayo Clinic knowledge and resources.

< Back

Numbness in hands


Definition

Numbness in one or both hands describes a loss of feeling in the hands or fingers. Numbness in hands often occurs with other changes, such as a pins-and-needles feeling, burning or tingling. Your arm, hand or fingers may feel clumsy or weak.

Numbness can occur along a single nerve in one hand or in both hands.

Causes

Hand numbness can be caused by damage, irritation, or compression of a nerve or a branch of a nerve in your arm and wrist.

Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness. However, diabetes usually causes numbness in the feet first.

Uncommonly, numbness may be caused by problems in your brain or spinal cord. When this happens, arm or hand weakness or loss of function also occurs. Numbness alone isn't usually associated with potentially dangerous disorders, such as strokes or tumors.

Your doctor needs detailed information about your symptoms to diagnose the cause of numbness. A variety of tests may be needed to confirm the cause before treatment can begin.

Possible causes of numbness in one or both of your hands include:

Brain and nervous system conditions

  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke

Trauma or overuse injuries

  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Frostbite

Chronic conditions

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Amyloidosis
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Raynaud's disease
  • Sjogren's syndrome

Infectious diseases

  • Lyme disease
  • Syphilis

Treatment side effects

  • Chemotherapy or HIV drugs

Other causes

  • Ganglion cyst
  • Vasculitis
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency

When to see a doctor

It's important to determine the cause of hand numbness. If numbness persists or spreads to other parts of your body, consult your health care provider.

Treatment of numbness in your hands depends on the cause.

Call 911 or get emergency medical help if your numbness:

Begins suddenly, particularly if you also have weakness or paralysis, confusion, trouble talking, dizziness, or a sudden, very bad headache.

Schedule an office visit if your numbness:

  • Begins or worsens gradually and persists.
  • Spreads to other parts of your body.
  • Affects both sides of your body.
  • Comes and goes.
  • Seems related to certain tasks or activities, particularly repetitive motions.
  • Affects only a part of your hand, such as a finger.

Content Last Updated: 08-Jun-2023
© 1998-2023 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of Use.