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Doctor identifies 'inconspicuous symptom' that signals 9 dangerous diseases

Doctor identifies 'inconspicuous symptom' that signals 9 dangerous diseases What diseases can numbness in the hands indicate (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

Many people tend to ignore numbness in their hands because they consider it a temporary and minor issue. Sometimes, it can indeed result from prolonged static hand positions, but it can also be a sign of dangerous diseases that require immediate treatment, according to the Facebook page of dietitian Oleh Shvets.

Numbness in the hands can result from various causes.

"Often, such symptoms are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve compression. Prolonged sitting or sleeping in one position can affect blood circulation in specific blood vessels, and certain nerve endings might experience prolonged pressure, leading to temporary numbness," the doctor explains.

Shvets shares a list of diseases for which numbness in the hands can be a symptom.


A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain ruptures or becomes blocked by a clot.

"In addition to numbness in the arms or legs, a stroke can cause weakness, confusion, vision and speech problems, as well as drooping on one side of the face, but not always. Stroke symptoms occur suddenly and affect only one side of the body. If there is suspicion of a stroke, you should call an ambulance," the doctor emphasizes.

Heart attack

Although other symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and cold sweats, are more common, numbness or pain in the arm (usually the left arm but not always) can also occur.

"This sensation typically occurs on the inner side of the left arm and is accompanied by chest pain. If there are symptoms similar to a heart attack, call an ambulance immediately," Shvets adds.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage formed by connective tissue and small bones on the palm side of the wrist. It houses tendons and the median nerve.

"Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the inner nerve becomes entrapped or compressed due to inflammation or narrowing of the canal. This can happen through repetitive hand and finger movements," says Shvets.

The syndrome progresses gradually. Typically, numbness first appears in the thumb and two adjacent fingers. This can also be painful. You may later feel weakness in your hand and even drop things you're holding.

"If there is a suspicion or confirmed diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, it's advisable to take breaks during repetitive hand movements to allow your hands to rest. Avoid actions that worsen your symptoms, and you can try applying cold compresses to ease pain and swelling," the doctor advises.

If these symptoms persist and interfere with sleep or daily activities, it's advisable to seek medical attention. Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage with significant symptoms.

Pinched cervical nerve

Cervical radiculopathy, also known as a "pinched cervical nerve," can occur when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated in the area where it branches off the spinal cord. This can cause pain radiating to the shoulder and arm, as well as muscle weakness and numbness.

"Pinched nerves are usually due to injury or excessive strain. Sometimes, health problems like arthritis, narrowing of spaces between the bones in the spine, or spinal tumors can lead to pinched nerves. When a nerve is pinched, you may experience sharp, burning, or tingling pain, muscle weakness in the arm," the doctor says.

Rest and pain relievers can help alleviate the condition. If symptoms persist after several days, it's advisable to see a doctor, who may recommend a splint, brace, physical therapy, medications, or other treatment options.


Prolonged high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and lead to diabetic neuropathy. In this case, numbness typically occurs in the feet. In rare cases, it can affect the hands.

"Numbness may also be accompanied by tingling or burning sensations, sharp pain, sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, reflex loss, especially in the Achilles tendon reflex, balance and coordination issues, as well as severe problems with the feet, such as ulcers, infections, and bone and joint pain," Shvets explains.

There are no specific medications for treating diabetic neuropathy, so medications to alleviate symptoms are prescribed. Better blood sugar control can help slow nerve damage.

Migraine with aura

In some people, migraine headaches can be accompanied by visual disturbances or other sensory symptoms, known as "auras," which can affect vision and other sensory organs. Numbness in the hands can be one of these sensory issues.

"If migraine with aura is the cause of hand numbness, the symptoms typically start within an hour after the headache and last up to 60 minutes. Among other aura symptoms, there can be changes in vision or vision loss, including blind spots, zigzag lines, flashes of light, muscle weakness, difficulty with speech or finding the right word," Shvets says.

If pain relievers are not effective, a doctor can prescribe medications for migraine treatment and prevention. When experiencing migraine symptoms with aura, it's essential to consult a specialist because some of these symptoms, such as vision problems, can also be signs of a stroke or retinal detachment.

Neurological pathologies

Neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis can also cause numbness in the hands. In such cases, numbness can occur in the legs, problems with speech, or concentration.

It's essential to consult a specialist for treatment that can alleviate symptoms and help slow the progression of the disease.

Chemotherapy side effects

Certain types of cancer chemotherapy can lead to nerve damage, resulting in numbness or tingling and pain in the arms, legs, fingers, toes, or other parts of the body.

"This is a common side effect of some chemotherapy, but if it interferes with your daily life, you should consult your doctor. Recovery from chemotherapy-induced nerve damage can take up to 2 years," Shvets says.

Vitamin deficiencies

Impaired skin sensitivity and numbness in the hands can be signs of low levels of B vitamins.

"Research results also associate similar symptoms with low vitamin D levels. After excluding all the mentioned causes for hand numbness, a doctor may suggest taking a complex of B vitamins or vitamin D supplements if levels are below the norm," the doctor explains.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.