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Tingling in the Hands

Tingling in hands generally feels like pins and needles. Learn about common causes of tingling in hands and how that determines treatment. A tingling sensation in the hands is a common symptom of several underlying conditions, including those involving the peripheral nervous system. It feels like pins and needles and may be accompanied by numbness.Understanding the underlying cause

  • Posted on 17th May, 2022 09:40 AM
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A tingling sensation in the hands is a common symptom of several underlying conditions, including those involving the peripheral nervous system. It feels like pins and needles and may be accompanied by numbness.

Understanding the underlying cause generally requires a healthcare provider. If the tingling is experienced in addition to more severe symptoms like dizziness and confusion or paralysis or numbness of other parts of the body, it is best to seek medical attention right away. 

This article talks about the symptoms and possible causes of tingling in hands. It also discusses how a healthcare provider may approach diagnosis and treatment of tingling in the hands.

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Symptoms of Tingling in the Hands

Tingling in hands is a common symptom of certain medical conditions. When and how it comes about will differ from person to person, depending on the underlying cause.

What Does Tingling in the Hands Feel Like?

Generally, tingling in the hands is a pins-and-needles sensation and may be accompanied by numbness in the hands or fingers. 

Causes of Tingling in the Hands

Tingling in the hands can be caused by several factors, and sometimes the sensation, while not pleasant, is only temporary and not cause for concern.

For example, if blood flow is restricted to your hands, such as from wearing something tight around your wrist, you may have tingling in your hands. Or if your fingers go numb from them being in the cold, you may feel a tingling sensation once the numbness starts to go away. However, if tingling in the hands is persistent and frequent, it may be a sign of a medical condition.

Some of the most common causes of tingling in hands are:

  • Nerve damage: Nerves can be damaged from physical injury as well as metabolic conditions. Peripheral neuropathy includes damage to the peripheral nervous system (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord) and is a common symptom of metabolic disorders, like diabetes
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is common and is caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist. A pinched median nerve can lead to tingling and/or numbness up into the palm and fingers. 
  • Alcohol use disorder: Drinking a lot can lead to insufficient absorption of nutrients like thiamine (vitamin B1), which is important for keeping a healthy nervous system. Over time, not having enough thiamine may lead to conditions like beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, both of which cause tingling in the hands.   
  • Autoimmune diseases: In these conditions, the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells by mistake. This process can damage the peripheral nervous system, which may lead to tingling in the hands. Guillain-Barre syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune conditions that have tingling in hands as symptoms.

What Medications Can Cause Tingling in the Hands?

Side effects of some medications include tingling in the hands. Specifically, some drugs or a combination of drugs may lead to nerve damage. If the damaged nerve leads to the wrist or hand, it may show up as tingling in the hand. 

Examples of medications and substances that may cause neuropathy include:

  • Heart or blood pressure drugs
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Anti-infection drugs
  • Autoimmune disease drugs
  • Anti-seizure drugs

How to Treat Tingling in Hands

Since tingling in hands can be a symptom of an assortment of other conditions, relief will come from treating those underlying conditions. In other words, the cause must be determined in order to know how to treat the tingling. 

If you are experiencing tingling in your hands and do not know why, consider if it is temporary or not. For example, maybe it is a one-off circumstance that goes away quickly, which likely is harmless. On the other hand, if the tingling is persistent and happens often, you should talk to a healthcare provider. A provider can help you determine why the tingling is happening and, based on that, prescribe treatment.

Depending on the underlying cause, treatment may include medication or professional therapies. For example, if the tingling is caused by nerve damage from a physical injury, treating that injury may include physical therapy. If alcohol misuse is a factor, professional counseling may be recommended to help address the underlying challenges that lead to heavy drinking.

Are There Tests to Diagnose Tingling in Hands?

Since tingling in the hands is a common symptom of several medical conditions, there are a handful of tests a healthcare provider will perform to determine the underlying cause. Some of these tests are:

  • Physical exam, which can include a neurological exam
  • Blood tests to review hormone and vitamin levels, among other things
  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Nerve function tests, like electromyography, which records electrical activity in muscle tissue when the nerve is stimulated
  • Medical history to understand factors like medications and other conditions that may be leading to tingling in the hands

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If the tingling in your hands is temporary and is specific to certain circumstances, note when and where it happens. For example, did your hands get too cold and go numb? Or was something tight on your wrist? A onetime circumstance may not be cause for concern, especially if the tingling goes away quickly.

If the tingling happens often, it is best to seek the counsel of a healthcare provider. If any of the following symptoms occur, get medical attention right away:

  • Numbness in other parts of your body 
  • Paralysis
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

Summary

Tingling in the hands is a common symptom of underlying medical conditions, some of which include the peripheral nervous symptom. Sometimes, though, the tingling is temporary and a onetime circumstance, in which case, it is usually not cause for concern. If tingling in your hands happens frequently, contact a healthcare provider, who will be able to assess the underlying cause and determine the appropriate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should I be concerned about tingling in my hands?

    Sometimes the tingling sensation is temporary and is caused by a single circumstance. For example, if you’re outside and it’s extremely cold, you may experience numbness in your hands that's followed by tingling once your hands are warmed up again. This is a temporary condition. If the tingling is frequent and unexplained, it is best to speak to a healthcare provider to understand the cause and next steps.

  • Can nerve damage cause tingling in hands?

    Yes, but it’s not always the case. Tingling in the hands may be caused by peripheral neuropathy or a pinched nerve. However, there are other causes that are less obvious, including a thiamine deficiency (such as from heavy drinking) and certain medications or a combination of them.

  • How can I get rid of tingling in my hands?

    Finding relief from tingling in your hands requires understanding what the underlying cause is. If the tingling sensation is persistent and frequent, a healthcare provider can help diagnose what’s causing the tingling sensation. It may be that a nerve is pinched or the medication (or combination of medications) you’re taking is causing tingling in your hands. Seeking medical help will help you get relief.

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