Waking up suddenly with numb hands is a common symptom that causes a lot of discomfort. That strange tingling sensation in the hands indicates the loss of sensation or touch .

It can be benign and temporary, however, in many cases, it becomes severe or chronic and may be hiding other diseases. But it sure worries you to know why your hands are numb How can you avoid it? or how is it relieved? Here we will explain it to you.

What is numbness in the hands

Numbness in your hands, fingers or feet should not always be a cause for concern, it can be due to something simple, such as the result of the pressure of your body on the nerves of your arm when you sleep , or the pressure on the nerves of the leg when crossed for a long time. Even some medication that you are taking could generate this side effect.

The sensation of having pins or multiple needles sticking in the hands usually goes away soon and is relieved by removing the pressure on the nerve . But when this tingling or cramping is more intense and accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, itching, numbness, and muscle wasting, it could be a sign of nerve damage .

Your hands have touch receptors that are very sensitive, these are specialized nerve endings, which are responsible for capturing internal and external stimuli to bring information to the nervous system and then be processed by the brain.

These receptors allow you to identify temperature changes in your body, painful stimuli, vibrations, pressures, they help you identify the shape and size of objects when you touch them, among other important functions.

They are connected through nerves to the brain, if one or more of these nerves is pressed or damaged by some cause, it is possible that the brain does not receive all the information that the hands send, and the result could be to wake you up with the hands numb.

Peripheral neuropathy is the name given to the affection of these distant nerves to the brain, over time it can worsen reducing mobility and even causing disability, this condition is more common in most older adults.

Causes of numb hands and feet

Numb hands is a symptom that can be occasional and disappear without complications, as we have already mentioned, but it can also be something chronic that affects your daily life and makes it impossible for you to perform activities. Let’s see what are the most common causes of numb hands.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

It is one of the most common causes of numb hands, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passage that is in the wrist, and through the center of the tunnel passes the median nerve , one of the main nerves of the hand, when it is clamped or pressed at the wrist level, carpal tunnel syndrome originates.

It is common in people who work doing repetitive activities such as typing or spend a lot of time on the computer, as this can cause the tissues around the nerve to become inflamed.

In addition to numbness, your thumb, index, and middle fingers may feel slightly swollen and tingly or sore. If you feel identified with these symptoms you should visit a doctor, since, if it is not treated in time, it may require surgery.

There are other nerve entrapment syndromes that cause tingling in the hands, such as ulnar nerve or radial nerve palsy.

Vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Deficiency of vitamins B1, B6, B12, E and niacin can mainly cause tingling in the hands, as they are essential for good nerve health.

For example, pernicious anemia is deficient in vitamin B12, and is a cause of peripheral neuropathy. But also an excess of vitamin such as B6 can cause the opposite effect and cause numbness in the hands and feet.

In addition, not only vitamin deficiencies cause alterations in the nerves, the lack of minerals such as potassium or magnesium are another cause that can cause muscle cramps and that you wake up with numb hands.

Sleeping in bad posture

If you sleep for a long time on the arm or a specific hand, it can cause pressure and tension in it, compressing the nerves of the limb and resulting in that terrible sensation of numbness in the hands.

Even poor posture or trauma to the neck can injure any cervical nerve or brachial plexus and lead to numbness in the hands and arms.

Herniated disc

The vertebrae of the spine are separated by intervertebral discs , which are similar to soft cushions, if there is a damaged disc, it will cause compression on the nerves and can end up injuring them. Causing you to feel numb hands, weakness and even pain in the arm or lower limbs depending on the affected nerve.


When the levels of glycemia (sugar) in the blood are high, the blood vessels deteriorate and the nerves stop receiving the necessary oxygen, if this condition persists for a long time it can cause diabetic neuropathy .

Symptoms include pain, burning, numbness, or numbness in the hands, legs, or feet, as well as the sensation of pins or needles pricking the extremities.

There are many diseases that can start with the symptom of numb hands (2), these are just a few, but if this condition does not disappear in a few days, and weakness, vision changes, confusion, dizziness or difficulty speaking are attached, you should go immediately to the nearest health center.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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