Numbness in the hands and feet refers to a lack of touch sensation in those areas. This common problem may occur due to various reasons, ranging from lack of physical activity to nutritional deficiency.
Causes of Numbness
It is a very common problem, which may occur due to various reasons, including:
- Constant pressure on the hands and feet
- Exposure to cold objects
- Temporary nerve compression
- Nerve injury
- Excessive drinking
- Lack of activity
- Nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12 or magnesium
In some cases, the numbness in body parts such as hands and feet can be caused by medical conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and underactive thyroid.
Signs and Symptoms of Numbness
In addition to a lack of sensation, other symptoms associated with this condition may include:
- Tingling or burning sensations
- Sharp pain
- Weakness in the affected area
Prevention of Numbness
- Avoid remaining in the same position for long periods, especially when watching TV or working on the computer.
- Avoid the consumption of caffeine and alcoholic beverages as they may reduce blood circulation.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Consume more of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables. Avoid processed and refined foods.
- Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration as it can cause poor blood circulation.
- Avoid smoking and using other tobacco products as these may overload the nervous system.
- Avoid wearing shoes that don’t fit well to prevent numbness in your feet. High heels or footwear that pinches your toes may also lead to numbness.
When to See a Doctor
Usually, the numbness that lasts only a few minutes is not a matter of concern, but consult your doctor if you experience it frequently and for long periods. It can be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires immediate attention and appropriate treatment.
Suffering from numbness in your hands and feet can cause a lot of discomfort. Fortunately, you can treat the problem easily with some simple home remedies.
Here are a few home remedies for numbness in hands and feet.
1. Warm Compress
The first thing you need to do in order to get rid of numbness in the hands and feet is to apply warm compress on the affected area. It helps to increase the blood supply to that part of the body. Moreover, it relaxes the muscles and nerves in the area.(1)
- Dip a washcloth in warm water.
- Wring out the excess and then place it on the affected area for 5–7 minutes.
- Repeat several times until the numbness is gone.
You may also take a warm shower or use a heating pad for relief.
Massaging your hands and feet when numbness occurs is an easy yet effective way to tackle this problem. It increases the blood circulation, which in turn reduces the numbness.(2) Moreover, it helps stimulate the nerves and muscles, thereby improving their overall functioning.
- Take some warm olive, coconut, or mustard oil on your palm.
- Apply it to the numb area.
- Massage in circular motions with firm fingers for at least 5 minutes.
- Repeat as needed.
Exercise can improve blood circulation and oxygen to all parts of the body,(3) thus preventing numbness and tingling sensations anywhere in the body, including your hands and feet. Moreover, regular exercise improves mobility and helps prevent a number of health problems.(4)
- Do simple foot and hand exercises for 15 minutes every morning. During breaks at work, do curls and stretches to exercise your arms, wrists, hands, and legs.
- Cardiovascular workouts and aerobic exercises for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, are also of great help.
- Indulge in walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming regularly in order to improve your blood circulation.
Don’t forget to warm-up well before workouts. Wear appropriate exercise shoes and gear.
Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, helps improve blood flow throughout the body. In addition, its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce pain and discomfort in the affected area.(5)
- Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 1 cup of milk. Heat it over a low flame. Also, add a little honey. Drink the mixture once daily to improve your circulation.
- You can also massage the affected area for a few minutes with a paste prepared with turmeric powder and water.
- If you have poor circulation, daily intake of turmeric supplements may help. However, you must consult your doctor before taking supplements.
5. Epsom Salt
Soaking your feet in a tub of warm water with Epsom salt can also help in reducing numbness. The magnesium sulfate crystals can help raise magnesium levels in the body and improve blood circulation.(6) Proper blood circulation can help reduce numbness and prevent it from recurring.
- Mix ½ cup of Epsom salt in a small tub filled with warm water.
- Soak your feet in this solution for around 10 minutes.
- Repeat this remedy a few times a week.
Cinnamon contains numerous chemicals and nutrients, including manganese and potassium as well as several important B vitamins. Its nutritional properties can help improve blood flow to the arms and legs and thus help treat numbness in the hands and feet.(8) According to experts, consuming 2 to 4 grams of cinnamon powder everyday helps in improving blood circulation.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder in 1 glass of warm water. Drink this once daily.
- Another option is to mix together 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and honey and have this mixture every morning for a few weeks.
7. Ginkgo Biloba
It is available in the market in the form of supplements.
The general dosage of Ginkgo Biloba supplement is 40 milligrams, 3 times a day. However, consult your doctor before using this remedy. Ginkgo biloba may interfere with certain medications.
8. Elevating the Affected Part
Elevation may also help reduce numbness in the hands and feet due to poor circulation. Keep the affected area elevated for several minutes to improve the blood flow.(11)
Once the flow of blood to the affected area gets back to normal, the numbness will go away.
Use pillows to keep your hands and legs elevated.
9. Vitamin B-Rich Foods
To prevent numbness and tingling sensations in your hands and feet, it is essential to eat foods that are high in B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. These vitamins are essential for healthy nerve functioning, and their deficiency can cause numbness in certain body parts, including the hands, arms, fingers, and legs.(12)
- Add foods high in vitamin B6 and B12 to your diet, including eggs, meats, fish, seeds, nuts, fortified cereals, avocados, bananas, beans, oatmeal, milk, cheese, yogurt, and dried fruits.
- You may even consider taking a vitamin B-complex supplement twice daily. Consult your healthcare provider for the correct dosage and type of supplement.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, peanut butter, cold-water fish, soybeans, avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, and low-fat yogurt.
- You may also take magnesium supplements. However, talk with your doctor to discuss the correct dosage.
- If the numbness in your feet is due to staying in one position for a long time, move around slowly to improve the blood circulation.
- Losing weight can help in reducing numbness in your feet and toes.
- Malanga, Gerard A, et al. “(PDF) Mechanisms and Efficacy of Heat and Cold Therapies for musculoskeletal injury”. Researchgate, researchgate.net/publication/269767537. Published December 2014.
- Mori, H, et al. “Effect of Massage on Blood Flow and Muscle Fatigue Following Isometric Lumbar Exercise.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15114265. Published May 2004.
- Joyner, M J, and D P Casey. “Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles during Exercise: a Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25834232. Published April 2015.
- Warburton, DE, et al. “Health Benefits of Physical Activity: the Evidence.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16534088. Published 14 March 2006.
- Kulkarni, S. K., and A. Dhir. “An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929771/. Published 2010.
- Gröber, Uwe, et al. “Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy.” Nutrients MDPI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586582/. Published September 2015.
- Cunningham, John, et al. “Magnesium in Chronic Kidney Disease Stages 3 and 4 and in Dialysis Patients.” Clinical Kidney Journal, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4455820/. Published February 2012.
- Rao, PasupuletiVisweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/. Published April 2014.
- Dubey, A K, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba an Appraisal.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16400219. Published 2004.
- Jung, F, et al. “Effect of Ginkgo Biloba on Fluidity of Blood and Peripheral Microcirculation in Volunteers.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2383302. Published May 1990.
- Abu-Own, Abdusalam, et al. “Effect of Leg Elevation on the Skin in Microcirculation in Chronic Venous Insufficiency.” Journal of Vascular Surgery, jvascsurg.org/article/S0741-5214(94)70157-1/pdf?code=ymva-site. Published November 1994.
- Leishear, K, et al. “Relationship between Vitamin B12 and Sensory and Motor Peripheral Nerve Function in Older Adults.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22690982. Published June 2012.
- Dechent WJ-, Ketteler M. Magnesium basics. Clinical Kidney Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4455825/. Published February 2012.