10 Potential Causes Of Numbness In The Arms And Legs- Part One

There are a lot of things that can cause numbness in the arms and legs, but this sensation should not persist beyond normal or obvious reasons such as decreasing circulation due to the way you’re sitting or falling asleep in an unusual position. Often with examples like these the numbness that occurs quickly retreats once your blood flow returns to the limb. However, if the numbness you are feeling continues over a long period or is abnormally consistent, you will want to check in with your provider to figure out what is happening. Since there are so many potential causes of numbness in the arms and legs one should not simply assume their diagnosis.

1. Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common side effects of diabetes. Neuropathy itself is the disease or dysfunction of nerves that cause numbness and tingling, fireworks sensations, decreased feeling, or altered sensations. However, it can also occur in the heart and digestive system with little to no symptoms. Diabetic neuropathy affects the strength of the muscles, sexual function, and causes the numbing sensation that is commonly associated with this disease. Those who develop diabetic neuropathy usually have trouble with blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain, and controlling their blood glucose levels. Unfortunately, there is not a single diagnostic test for this type of disease as it can cause a wide variety of symptoms, so it essential to communicate with your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms. Stephanie frequently evaluates and treats neuropathy in the clinic, so if you would like to be tested, please set up an office visit to discuss your symptoms, and Stephanie will test your ability to sense sharp and dull as well as movement and blood flow of the affected areas.

2. Peripheral Neuropathy

Commonly speaking, peripheral neuropathy is a condition of a disrupted signal from the nerves to the brain. Peripheral nerves are an intricate network connecting the brain and spinal cord to all your muscles, skin, and internal organs. If there is damage or disease within this nervous system, the communication between these areas of the body can result in impaired function leading to symptoms like abnormal sensations in the arms and legs. There are different types of peripheral neuropathy, so the cause and result of each will vary. Additionally, each patient’s life is affected differently by their symptoms depending on symptom type and severity.

3. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Have you ever experienced a loss or change of coloring along with a numbing sensation in your hands or toes? One particular condition where these symptoms are prevalent is Raynaud’s phenomenon. This condition causes the blood flow in your extremities to become restricted or interrupted because of episodic vasospasms (spasms of the blood vessels). It is a phenomenon that can occur by itself or be brought on due to other conditions such as autoimmune disease, arthritis, and frostbite. Vasospasms that are brought on due to other conditions are known as secondary Raynaud’s. Those with secondary Raynaud’s usually experience pain along with numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes while those with primary Raynaud’s typically experience a loss or change of coloring and sensation. If you are experiencing a purple or dark red color change or a lack of blood flow into the fingers or toes that makes them lose color, please set up an appointment to discuss this and determine a plan of care.

4. Stroke

A stroke, or cerebral vascular accident (CVA), is when blood vessels in the brain bleed or rupture or when the blood supply to the brain is blocked by something like a blood clot. This rupturing or blockage prevents oxygen from reaching the brain’s tissue causing ischemia (loss of oxygen to tissue) which is commonly referred to as a stroke. Strokes can be extremely dangerous and should never be ignored. Without oxygen to the brain, brain cells and tissue become damaged and can begin to die with minutes leading to serious side effects. Unilateral (one sided) numbness in the face, leg, arm, and/or one side of the body is just one of the many symptoms that are commonly seen with those who have suffered a stroke. Because of the severe side effects associated with strokes, strokes are considered a medical emergency and require immediate medical attention. Other common physical effects of a CVA are slurred speech or loss of speech, confusion, loss of vision, severe headache, and one sided weakness that makes it difficult to grasp or causes facial droop. The CDC offers a great way to remember what to do if you think someone is having a stroke. (Stroke Signs and Symptoms | cdc.gov):

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

5. Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries caused by a build-up of plaque. Arteries function as the blood vessel channels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. Plaque build-up can form in these arteries as you get older from the fats, cholesterol, and calcium that collects over time within your arteries. This plaque build-up restricts the blood flow in your arteries causing a blockage and therefore a numbing or tingling sensation in your arm or legs that can be accompanied by pain. If left untreated, Atherosclerosis can become life-threatening as it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, or heart failure.

At any point in time if you feel you may be experiencing anything similar to the above-mentioned causes of numbness in the arms and legs then you will want to call your medical professional as soon as possible. All of these causes can be serious if left untreated. Your health is important to you and those that care about you.

Read part two of 10 Potential Causes Of Numbness In The Arms And Legs

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