Numbness and Tingling in Both Arms and Legs

NUMBNESS AND TINGLING IN ARMS AND LEGS

This article describes disorders causing numbness and tingling in BOTH arms (hands) AND legs (feet). Typical symptoms are mentioned beside each disorder.

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PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHIES

Peripheral neuropathies (Gk. peripheria = outer surface; neuropathy = nerve disease) are disorders affecting nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Sensitive, motor and autonomic fibres of the spinal nerves and vagal nerve, can be affected and cause:

  • Numbness, tingling, burning, pain or weakness in limbs
  • Problems with coordination, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, falling from leg buckling or tripping over toes, problem with fine finger movements
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Heat intolerance
  • Dizziness at standing up
  • Early satiety, diarrhea, constipation, unintentional weight loss
  • Problems with urination
  • Male impotence

Causes of Numbness Due to Peripheral Neuropathies

Below is a list of causes of peripheral neuropathies with arm or leg numbness or tingling as common symptoms:

  1. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (in diabetes I or II): “stocking-glove” (feet-hands) pattern of numbness
  2. Alcoholic neuropaty: long term excessive alcohol drinking, burning feet, wide-based gait
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis: symmetrically swollen and warm joints in hands and/or feet, morning stiffness, numbness
  4. Vitamin B-12 and folate deficiency: weakness due to anemia, paleness, sore mouth and tongue, loss of appetite, numb feet and hands
  5. Uremia (from kidney failure): weakness, uremic frost, itchy skin (all over), edema (puffy face in the morning), numbness in limbs, urine-like odor to the breath
  6. Lyme disease (disseminated form): severe fatigue and headache, behavioral changes, numbness in the limbs, problems with the eyes, heart or joints
  7. Hepatitis C: history of a drug abuse, numbness in limbs, and often NO jaundice or other liver-related symptoms
  8. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is an inflammation of peripheral nerves due to abnormal immune response; numbness or tingling usually starts in toes or fingers; arms and legs weakness, and fatigue are common
  9. Leprosy , at the date, appears in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Brasil and certain African countries. Symptoms include rounded pigmentations on the limbs, numbness in hands (fingers) or feet (toes), limbs deformities
  10. Amyloidosis: enlarged tongue, right upper abdominal fullness, numbness in hands/feet
  11. Friedreich’s ataxia: clumsiness, staggering or lurching gait, trembling when standing still, impaired speech, arm/legs numbness
  12. Colorado tick fever, transmitted by a tic bite, occurring in Colorado/US: fever, sensitivity to light, headache, severe muscle aches, difficulty walking and breathing, limb numbness
  13. POEMS syndrome includes polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes. The cause is uncertain; unusual skin sensation and weakness can appear in the limbs on both sides

DISORDERS OF BRAIN AND SPINAL CORD

  1. Multiple sclerosis can cause numbness and tingling in various parts of the body, but rarely in a symmetrical pattern.
  2. Stroke can cause sudden numbness on one side of the body, for example in the left arm and leg.

CIRCULATION DISORDERS

Causes of impaired circulation resulting in arm/leg numbness or tingling:

  1. Peripheral vascular disease is narrowing of arteries due to their calcification (arteriosclerosis). Affected legs (or arms) can be pale, with blue/red discoloration, cold, painful, tingling or numb. Buerger’s disease usually develops in heavy male smokers (20-40 years of age) and cause pain, numbness and tingling in the feet and/or hands triggered by exercise and relieved by rest; ulcers on fingers/toes may appear.
  2. Frostnip, chilblains and frostbite: pale, bluish, numb skin on fingers, toes, nose and ears due to prolonged exposure to low temperatures
  3. Polyarteritis nodosa is a type of vasculitis, affecting medium-sized arteries: painful skin changes on the legs, partial limb paralysis, numbness in arms/legs, fever, weight loss
  4. Chronic necrotizing vasculitis is a rare vasculitis affecting arterial walls and causing fever, red spots on limbs, numbness and tingling in the toes, fingers, feet and hands

SPINAL DISORDERS

Disorders of the spinal cord or spine (vertebra), causing numbness and tingling in arms and/or legs:

  1. Spinal cord injury. Injuries of the cervical spine result in symmetrical arm and leg paralysis and numbness. Injuries at the thoracic level affect trunk and legs, and lumbar and sacral injuries affect hips and legs. In most spinal cord injuries, urine and fecal incontinence appear.
  2. Spinal tumors are rare, symptoms depend on their location and include back pain, arm or leg pain, weakness, numbness, partial paralysis, clumsiness, muscle spasms, bowel or bladder problems, or spinal deformity. Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly.
  3. Syringomyelia refers to a cyst (syrinx) in the spinal cord. Symptoms include pain, numbness, stiffness in the back, upper trunk, arms and legs.
  4. Spinal arachnoid cysts are cysts around the spinal cord, which contain cerebrospinal fluid. Symptoms: back and leg pain and tingling or numbness in the legs or arms that worsen with time.

POISONING

Toxins causing tingling in both hands (arms) and feet (legs):

  1. Fish or shellfish poisoning
    • Ciguatera poisoning. Certain big tropical fish, like tuna or barracuda, accumulate ciguatoxin from reef algae and can, usually few minutes to 30 hours after ingestion, cause tingling or itching in and around the lips, both arms and legs, or elsewhere on the body, reversal of hot/cold sensations, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from few days to several months.
    • Paralytic shellfish poisoning. Shellfish like mussels, cockles, clams, scallops, oysters, crabs and lobsters can, usually 15 minutes to 10 hours after eating, cause numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs, followed by headache, dizziness, nausea, and muscular incoordination or floating sensation. In severe poisoning, muscle paralysis and death may occur in 2 to 25 hours.
    • Neurotoxic shellfish poisoningis caused by a toxin accumulated in oysters, clams and mussels. Within 1 to 3 hours after eating, numbness, tingling in the mouth, arms and legs, incoordination, and gastrointestinal upset and reversal of hot/cold sensations can appear; spontaneous recovery usually occurs within 2-3 days.
  2. Arsenic poisoning symptoms: discoloration of the skin, numbness in hands and feet; partial paralysis; blindness

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF NUMBNESS AND TINGLING IN ARMS/LEGS

For diagnosis and treatment options check:

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About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer
  • Sabbi

    Hi there, I have had worrisome symptoms since the birth of my son almost 3 years ago. I have a multitude of symptoms and no one seems to be able to figure them out. The most annoying would have to be numbness and tingling in both hands and feet, painful joints in both hands and feet, extreme pain in shoulders, headaches, diziness, backache, muscle twitching, stiffness upon waking, aften numbness in arms and legs upon waking. I have been tested for lupus,RA,MS (MRI of the brain only), my ANA has come back positive than negative than positive and so on. But no one can figure it out. Any ideas of anything that could cause these symptoms that responds to prednisone? Prednisone is my friend as both times I have been on it all my symptoms have magicly disappeared hence ruling out fibro. I would really like somebodies input as I am at a loss.

    Thank you

    Sabrina

  • sudhakar

    Hello
    I have tingling,numbness,insect crawling sensation,electric shock like sensation(15-oct-2010) five days after recovery from dengue fever (10-oct-2010).Initialy the symptoms were very mild for 2 months.first these symptoms started in right abdomen and radiated to chest,arm pits then i have gone through ct scan of abdomen& endoscopy,they are normal.After this all these sensations radiated to all body parts. now i have electric shock like sensation & numbness especially in fingers of hands and in feet.these symptoms are waxing & waning daily and iam getting good sleep and I have gone through MRI of brain,EMG,nerve conduction test & results came as normal only my vitamin d was low 15.I have been to two neurologists. one neuro saying nerves got irritated due to viral infection & prescribed,trigabantin tablets containing alpha lipoic acid ,b12, gaba pentin & also duloxetine.another neuro said it is somatoform disorder & he is saying i have no nutritional deficiency since i got negative for nerve conduction test,EMG & prescribed pregabalin,a dietary supplement rujunex plex,duloxetene and he is saying no relation between neuropathies & vitamin d deficiency.My general physician(who has given treatment for dengue fever) said it is mild peripheral neuropathy & my nerves are weak and advised me to do some exercises in morning for enhancing the sufficient blood flow & oxygen to all parts.upto now i have mild to moderate symptoms.
    my concerns are
    1)my symptoms are due to vitamin d deficiency?
    2)Is it somatoform disorder,because i have lot of sress and worry about my health
    3)These symptoms get worsen in near future?
    4)i heard that peripheral neuropathy starts from extremities like feet&hand fingers in most of the cases,but mine was started from abdomen
    5)whether these neuropathies cause irreverisible damages?

  • Seth

    To start off I only have intermittent issues however lately more and more arises at smaller increments.

    First rpetitive thing was numbness in the left hand. I waived that cause I cut a nerve in my thumb a long time ago and it does that. it however is more frequent and involves more fingers. Yesterday and today it involved both hands.

    I also was tingling in my legs for today’s occassion. I contributed that early on to that same sensation I get when chewing for the first time in a long time.

    today I was rested as I laid in bed all night getting aboout 2hr sleep for 6 of stillness (also reoccuring) could be stresses of end-of-the-term. Had coffee (not a usual) prescribed adderall, and a chew.

    felt the effects of short hard breaths, tingling in extremeties, dull pain in left chest and dizziness. Walking around campus I think helped as it lasted maybe an hr (just thought a bad combo).

    It’s been 4 hours now with the same symptoms but a bit extensified as breathing is a bit more painful and light-head-edness controls my concentration on a project I need to get done stat! I have been sitting still during that time period drafting.

    I know this was long but its been going on for a while and now that its getting to be back-to-back days i’m a little worried, especially for my track season.

    thanks for for any help, hopefully reassuring :)

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Kasboo

    You may have a disorder emanating from the cervical spine like cervical spondylosis, etc. You should see an orthopedic specialist and have an MRI to verify that there is no other underlying disorders like a bulging disc and so on. Depending on the cause, some physical therapy may be able to help. Treatment depends on the diagnosis.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sabbi

    Pregnancy can serve as a trigger for many conditions, particularly autoimmune diseases. This is often seen in women who develop conditions like post partum thyroiditis (thyroid inflammation after pregnancy) and rheumatoid arthritis. Your ANA would therefore come up positive because it is condition possibly of autoimmune origin. This is where your body’s immune system attacks various tissues of the body and in your case, it may be targeted more towards the joint lining and so on. Prednisone is a corticosteroid and suppresses immune activity and reduces inflammation thereby counteracting the action and effects of your autoimmune condition. It is the main medication used in autoimmune diseases. At this point you should see a rheumatologist who will be better suited to assess and manage your condition.

  • pam

    i pulled very heavy cables last november. my work is usually repetitive in nature, but last november totally did me in. i caught about 120lbs of cables thrown down to me from bleachers, and felt my right arm totally give out. i thought i was out of shape? i went to doctor as the usual shoulder/ arm/ pain i had with my repetitive job, became so sever into the hand and neck i could not stand it. they did carpal tunnel surgery in my hand on feb/2011. i still have terrible pain in my neck and arm/shoulder. the pain is so severe, i cannot sleep and cannot lift my arm over my head. my other shoulder is sore now, as i tend to over use the good arm. please help me. someone mentioned i could have some type of “crush x2″ injury? thoughts appreciated. pam

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sudhakar

    I don’t think we are in a position to answer many of your questions and you should have directed this at your doctors. Despite your descriptive report, there is a chance that you are missing crucial information and often there is a tendency for readers to be subjective about the reports. To answer some of the questions though :
    1. Yes, vitamin D deficiency can cause some of these symptoms.
    2. No way of knowing whether this is a somatoform disorder for sure and this diagnosis is used when all other possible causes to explain your symptoms have been excluded. Given that you admit to being stressed and worried, it may be time to see a psychiatrist and see if mood-stabilizing drugs will actually ease these symptoms.
    3. It may get worse, may improve or even resolved. Nobody can say for sure.
    4. The symptoms you initially experienced on the abdomen could have been due to some other cause that subsequently resolved, so yes, it is reasonable to label this a peripheral neuropathy if the it is only occurring on the feet and hands at this point.
    5. Some neuropathies may cause irreversible damage – remember the nerves cannot “grow” back and depending on the underlying cause, healing may not be possible.

  • ahmad

    how many time needed to relive numbness which caused by stroke

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Ahmad

    Patients can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to recover. Sometimes it is sooner. There is also a good possibility that there may never be recovery depending on the extent of the infarct.

  • wendy

    I’d be interested in hearing follow up for sudhaker’s situation. Since last summer I have had symetrical numbness in hands and feet as well as tongue that waxes and wanes. When symptoms are at their worst I also have a little cognitive impairment and slurred speech. I’ve gone through a battery of tests (MRI, nerve conduction, celiac tests, thyroid, heavy metals, and more) and the only thing that has come up abnormal is deficiencies in B12 and D. B12 deficiency can cause these symptoms. But I have undergone injections and months of high dosage oral B12 and I haven’t noticed any correlation between B12 consumption and symptom relief. The only thing I’ve noticed that seems to have a definite effect is alcohol consumption. If I drink even a small amount I will usually have symptoms within 24 hours. Recently I went a week without drinking anything and was without symptoms. I had one drink and within an hour had numbness in all three locations. I suspect I’m chronically dehydrated and this may also contribute to the problem. Sudhaker’s post caught my eye, in part, because of the numbness starting in the abdomen. When all this began I had skin sensitivity on one side of my trunk (it felt like a sunburn). I thought perhaps I was about to get shingles but this didn’t happen. It may be only a coincidence, but possibly was some sort of infection.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Seth

    We cannot answer this with any degree of accuracy as you have not mentioned much about your age, general health status, medical history, use of drugs or results of tests. You need to see a doctor and have this assessed properly. Take note that many of your symptoms are associated with stress, which is common for a student. If you are not receiving any satisfaction from the doctor you are seeing then it may be time to see a specialist physician like a neurologist. While it does not appear to be a serious ailment, given the benign nature, nevertheless medical attention is always advisable.

  • wendy

    @Seth: I agree with another post that this could be stress.

    If you haven’t already done so, be sure to have your B12 levels checked. If you google B12 deficiency, you’ll recognize some symptoms. Be aware that lab standards for B12 are out of date, so you might get a test result back of 200 that is flagged as “normal” (though in some people that level can cause neurological symptoms). If your doctor is up-to-date, they’ll likely want to supplement if your levels are 400 or below. In other countries, acceptable levels are even higher.

    Another thing–regarding the chest pain, be sure to rule out heartburn (especially if it happens when you lie down). I know that sounds silly, but if you’re not used to heartburn it can be pretty scary. Next time you get the chest pain, you might try a couple of Tums and see if you get any relief. (A note here: chronic use of antacids or proton pump inhibitors will interfere with B12 absorption.)

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Pam

    You really should seek the advice of the orthopedic surgeon who dealt with your case. Firstly it is still quite soon after your last procedure to be considering other options. Secondly, regular follow ups with your surgeon will allow him to assess any improvement, or lack thereof, and consider other options.

  • Michele

    Can stopping B 12 injections for 2 1/2 months cause muscle weakness in arms, legs? I started the injections again but after one injection I had burning sensations in the extremities and then later in the face and chest. Can a fast drop cause these symptoms? How can I build my levels up safely? It seems like I go every other day with the burning. One day fine, the next day burning? What is going on?

  • linda

    I have numbness and tingling in my feet and legs. It started on my left side. Toes first, then foot, then tightening in my calf and numbness and tingling for 2 days and then my right foot just the toes started tingling went to the foot and calve. Now I have numbness and tingling in both feet. Tightness and tingling in my calves. My bottom area is also numb when I wipe which sound awful. If I am on my feet for an extended period of time they swell. No one will listen to my symptoms to come close to a diagnoses. What is wrong with me. I get seem relief playing down and I am able to sleep at night. Sometimes sitting makes it worse but seems. Standing and cooking for a couple of hours does me in.

  • Chris

    I’ve been quite concerned lately, due to the fact that I’ve been having a lot of numbness in my arms and legs. I’ve noticed that my vision has worsened as well. I’ve been to the doctor and they’ve said my blood pressure ans glucose levels are a little low. Been through cat scans and haven’t found anything else that was wrong with me. Is there anything I can do or take to prevent further numbness and weakness in everyday activities?