Numbness | DesiMD


General Practice

Submitted by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on Sat, 06/22/2013 - 14:34

What is numbness and how do we identify the cause?

Numbness in the true sense denotes loss of feeling or sensation. In other words a person with numbness looses the ability to recognize touch either by him or by others who touch him over the area affected

The commonest cause for numbness is either a damage or disease of a nerve(s).Numbness is often associated with or preceded by  abnormal pain-like sensations often described as pins-and-needles, pricking or burning sensations. These are termed as parasthesias.Numbness differs from paralysis in that the former is characterized by loss of sensation where as the later usually involves loss of sensation as well as inability to move the area affected. Some times numbness is used to refer to emotional numbness or detachment. Slightest suspicion of numbness must be thoroughly evaluated through professional medical advice.

There are various general causes of numbness. These include: Paresthesias, disorders in the nerves, entrapment of a nerve, nerve compression syndromes, repetitive motion disorders, and carpal tunnel syndrome, disorders in circulation, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Hyperventilation, Stroke, Transient Ischemic attack and panic attacks. 

Numbness can affect various body parts and its cause depends on the location of numbness like leg, thigh, foot, toe, arm, elbow, hand, wrist or finger.

Hundreds of conditions may present with numbness as one of the symptoms. Many of these conditions have individual characteristic symptoms which help in the differential diagnosis to arrive at possible cause.