What Causes Tingling in Hands?

By Robynn Lowe
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 26, 2022

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:

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Diabetic neuropathy

This is a type of nerve damage that affects people with diabetes.

Diabetic neuropathy can affect both the hands and the feet of those living 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. 

Other symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include frequent urination or an uncontrollable bladder, numbness in the limbs, muscle weakness, and sharp, throbbing pains in the body.

Vitamin deficiency

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.

Pinched nerve

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. 

Kidney failure

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:

  • Tiredness, weakness, and fatigue
  • Changes in urination and bladder control
  • Swelling in the limbs

Pregnancy

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.

Infections

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:

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.

This includes autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS). 

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

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. 

At-home treatments

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

Diagnosis

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.

Other Symptoms

Aside from tingling hands, each of the conditions mentioned above comes with its own additional symptoms. 

This includes: 

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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

What does tingling in hands indicate?
Something as simple as sitting in the same position for too long or lying on your limbs for long periods can cause numbness and a tingling sensation in your hands. This will get better in a few minutes. However, in some other cases, tingling in the hands can be a sign of an underlying condition or damage caused by an accident or injury. Consult a medical expert for an accurate diagnosis.
When should I worry about tingling in my hands?
If the tingling sensation in your hands does not go away in a few minutes or repeatedly appears over a few days, then it could be because of an additional condition or nerve damage. If you have been in an accident or think you have had an injury, seek medical help even if you don’t have any visible injuries.
Is tingling in hands serious?
In many cases, tingling in the hands is not serious and will subside in time. Almost all of us will experience this in many instances in our life; however, if the tingling does not go away in a few minutes or happens too often, then a medical diagnosis will be required.
How do I get my hands to stop tingling?
It could be that you sat or slept in one position for too long and that this has restricted blood circulation to your hands. Try moving around and shake your hands gently and give it a few minutes for the tingling to subside. You may also gently massage the area to stimulate blood flow. Wiggle your fingers and rotate your fists while doing gentle arm stretches. If the tingling does not stop after 30 minutes, then seek medical help.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Robynn Lowe

Robynn Lowe is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years in the medical field. Robynn received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has been practicing in rural family medicine since. Robynn is married to her college sweetheart, Raymond and they have three awesome children. When Robynn isn't with patients you can find her shopping, coaching her kids sports teams, or spending time on the water.

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