Pins and needles, tingling, prickling – whatever you call it, you must have felt such sensation in your hands and feet at some point in your life.
This is often most noticeable when you’ve left your hands or fingers in one position for too long or applied pressure on your limbs for long periods of time – your hands can ‘fall asleep.’
Waiting for the blood flow to resume will often solve this uncomfortable sensation.
In rare cases, the tingling of the hands could be due to an underlying condition, such as nerve damage, but you will need to know other symptoms to look for in order to identify this.
In this article, we’ll explore some common causes of tingling hands and look at what treatment options are available.
We’ll also discuss when to seek medical attention for tingling hands and how K Health can help.
Common Causes of Tingling Hands
Most often, tingling hands are caused by restricting blood flow to the area.
This can happen when you fall asleep on your limbs in an uncomfortable position or if you sit on your hands for long periods.
Removing the pressure and easing blood flow will often ease the tingling sensation.
Other common causes of tingling hands include:
This is a type of nerve damage that affects people with diabetes.
It usually starts with a tingling sensation on the fingertips that can go up the length of the arms as well.
People living with diabetes have a higher level of blood sugar in their system, and this causes nerves to get damaged and limit the oxygen supply through their bloodstream.
Vitamins play a vital role in maintaining the health of your body and nervous system and their deficiency can cause tingling hands.
Your nerves require certain vitamins and minerals (a healthy dose of them) to function correctly.
Low levels of vitamin B1, B6, B12, and folate can lead to neuropathy, which can cause tingling and sweaty sensation in your hands, fingers, and feet.
When too much pressure is applied to a nerve, it can cause a burning, tingling or painful sensation to the part of the body it supplies.
You may also experience numbness in the hands or feet.
A pinched nerve in your wrist is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and affects up to 6% of adults.
People with a pinched nerve or carpal tunnel will also notice weakness in their limbs.
You can treat pinched nerves by giving your hands and feet plenty of rest, using ergonomic products, and gently massaging the area.
Your kidney’s main function is to rid your body and blood of toxins.
If your kidney fails to do this, metabolic wastes can build up in your bloodstream, causing damage to your nerves.
This can result in weakness, numbness, and tingling sensations in the arms and legs.
Additional signs of kidney failure include:
Pregnancy can cause tingling in the hands and fingers.
Many pregnant people experience tingling, numbness, and pain in their hands throughout their pregnancy, especially in the third trimester and after delivery.
As the body swells, more pressure is added to the limbs and muscles, restricting and changing blood flow to the hands and feet.
Consult your doctor for tips on safely easing the tingling sensations and finding the most appropriate stretching exercises or treatments to help with discomfort during and after pregnancy.
Medication side effects
Some medications can cause tingling hands as a side effect.
This sensation, while uncomfortable, may go away after you finish your required dose of the medication or after your body recovers and adjusts to it.
If the side effects persist for a long period of time or interfere with your life greatly, then reach out to your medical provider for assistance.
They may need to change the dose or switch out the medication brand completely to help ease the side effects.
Some viral and bacterial infections can cause your nerve to become inflamed or damaged.
This can lead to a tingling sensation in your hands and feet.
Some infections that could present this symptom, among others, include:
- Lyme disease
- West Nile virus (WNV)
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Hepatitis B and C
- Hansen’s disease (leprosy)
If you think you have been exposed to a virus, ensure that you keep yourself isolated from others and practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of it spreading.
Seek medical help immediately for guidance on how to proceed with treating the virus.
Other Possible Causes of Tingling Hands
There could be numerous other reasons and underlying conditions that cause tingling hands.
In many cases, tingling hands is temporary due to stress factors and anxiety.
Only a licensed medical practitioner will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for tingling hands will depend on the cause.
If you woke up with tingling hands, it is likely caused by bad sleeping posture, and massaging your hands and moving them may help ease the sensation.
But if it persists, you will need to consult your doctor.
Your medical professional will advise you on the appropriate course of action based on your diagnosis.
If you’re experiencing tingling hands because of restricted blood flow, start by gently massaging the area, moving your fingertips, and clenching your fists.
Avoid sitting and sleeping in the same position, and on top of your arms, for long periods of time.
Other lifestyle habits and prevention techniques include maintaining a healthy diet, getting daily exercise, and limiting the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful substances that could restrict or limit blood flow.
Treatments for nerve damage
After a diagnosis, your healthcare practitioner will advise you on the most efficient treatment plan suitable for your condition of tingling hands caused by nerve damage.
This includes autoimmune medication, changes in nutrition, vitamin levels and lifestyle, regulation of blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory medication, and in very rare cases, surgery or radiation therapy.
Treatments for autoimmune disorders
While autoimmune diseases and disorders cannot be cured completely, your healthcare provider will be able to treat and manage your symptoms, including the tingling of your hands.
Treatment options include:
- Painkillers and pain management drugs
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids
- Vitamins and supplements
Only a medical professional will be able to reach an accurate diagnosis for your tingling hands.
They will conduct a thorough physical examination by inspecting your limbs and the rest of your body and will ask you questions regarding your lifestyle and routine.
You may also be required to undergo additional tests such as a blood test, urine sample, X-ray, ultrasound, or biopsy to identify any underlying conditions.
It is important to disclose any family history of autoimmune conditions and neurological diseases so that your medical expert can reach an accurate diagnosis.
If you have suffered any recent injuries or have been in an accident or a fall, be open and honest about this with the clinician to receive the best diagnosis for your tingling hands.
Aside from tingling hands, each of the conditions mentioned above comes with its own additional symptoms.
- Sharp pains and burning sensations in the limbs and other parts of the body
- Headaches and migraines
- Gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath and tiredness
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Blurry vision
When To Seek Medical Attention
Since many things can cause tingling hands if it does not subside or improve in time or keeps recurring, seek medical help as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing other symptoms like those mentioned above, especially difficulty in breathing, then visit the emergency room or call 911 immediately.
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. (2011).
Diabetic Neuropathy. (2018).
Peripheral neuropathy. (n.d.).