Numbness describes a loss of sensation or feeling in a part of your body. Numbness often is accompanied by other changes in sensation, such as a pins-and-needles feeling, burning or tingling. Numbness can occur along a single nerve, or it may occur on both sides of the body in a symmetrical pattern.
Fortunately, numbness by itself is only rarely associated with potentially life-threatening disorders, such as strokes or tumors.
Your doctor will need detailed information about your symptoms to diagnose the cause of your numbness. A variety of tests may be needed to confirm the cause before appropriate treatment can begin.
- Acoustic neuroma
- Alcoholism or chronic alcohol use
- Brachial plexus injury
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain AVM — abnormal connections between blood vessels in the brain
- (both cancerous and noncancerous)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Fabry's disease
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Herniated disk
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system
- Peripheral nerve compression (ulnar or peroneal nerves)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Raynaud's disease
- Side effects of chemotherapy or anti-HIV drugs
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Spinal cord injury
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.