We’ve all felt it before, numbness and tingling in your hands or feet. Usually it’s because you sat in one position for too long and your foot or hand “falls asleep” meaning the blood flow is impeded or nerves are pinched. It rights itself causing the tingling or “pins and needles.” There are other causes, though, that can be more serious.
One more serious cause is a vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin your body needs for proper metabolism, formation of red blood cells and good function of the central nervous system. When you have a B12 deficiency you can develop pernicious anemia. As the deficiency and pernicious anemia gets worse nerves become damaged, which causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
If you have a herniated disk in your spine it can cause numbness and tingling in your extremities. The disks are like shock absorbers for your spine and when they are damaged or as we age, the disks start to deteriorate and pinch the nerves in the spine.
When the nerve is pinched, it can cause pain that begins in the back and travels down the length of the leg. Numbness and weakness may also develop in the limbs, extremities, shoulder, neck and chest.
Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA
Another common cause is called a transient ischemic attack or TIA. A TIA happens when the blood flow in an artery is blocked temporarily. A TIA attack is similar to a stroke, but without any permanent symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of a TIA is sudden numbness and weakness in the face, limbs and extremities, usually on only one side of the body.
People with fibromyalgia may experience numbness or tingling in their legs and feet, called Paresthesia. Two theories as to why this happens are muscle stiffness and spasms causing muscles to press on the nerves. These spasms are known as a condition called cold-induced vasospasm, where the blood vessels in extremities like the feet and hands spasm and close up. This stops blood from flowing to them and results in numbness.
No matter the cause, if numbness and tingling persist, see your doctor.