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Bunions numbness: Bunions: Overview – InformedHealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf

Bunions: Overview – InformedHealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf

Created: June 28, 2018; Next update: 2021.


Our feet often change as we get older. Sometimes the big toe starts leaning in towards the other toes, and a bump may start appearing on the joint at the base of the big toe.

Known as a bunion (medical term: hallux valgus), this is more likely to happen in women. It is one of the most common foot deformities. Many people have a bunion with only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. But bunions can also cause pain and pressure.

Wearing suitable shoes can relieve the symptoms. Surgery is the only treatment that can get rid of bunions.


In people who have a bunion, the first metatarsal bone gradually moves sideways towards the other foot. As a result, the front of the foot becomes wider and the joint at the base of the big toe bulges out. The big toe leans in towards the other toes, sometimes deforming them too. Bunions can be painful, but not all of them are – even if they are very big.

The pain is usually felt in the toes, on the bulging big toe joint or along the bottom of the foot. The big toe joint mainly hurts when you wear shoes that are too tight. If the bulge is very big, it might even hurt when wearing wide shoes. Bunions can sometimes damage nerves in the big toe, leading to numbness. The skin on the sole of the foot often becomes thick and hard. The big toe joint may be red and swollen, and sometimes inflamed too. It also becomes harder to move the big toe. Hammer toes or claw toes might develop as well. If that happens, the other toes are bent in the middle or push against each other. Corns often form on the affected toes.

Bunions can increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis in the big toe joint and lead to chronic pain. Last, but not least, the resulting deformity can make you unsteady on your feet, increasing the risk of falls.


Several factors influence the risk of developing a bunion. Some people are more likely to have bunions because of their genes. Contrary to popular belief, tight shoes aren’t the main cause. But they can contribute to the development of bunions and make the problem worse – especially shoes with high heels and pointed toes. Some people regularly wear tight shoes and never get bunions. And some people nearly always wear comfortable shoes that are wide enough, but develop a bunion anyway.

The risk of bunions is greater in people who have weak connective tissue, a short Achilles’ tendon, short calf muscles, or a joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. But they can also develop as a result of having a splayfoot or flatfoot.


Bunions are far more common in women than in men – probably because they tend to have weaker connective tissue in their feet and are more likely to wear tight, high-heeled shoes. It is estimated that about 1 out of 3 people over the age of 65 have a bunion to some degree.


To determine whether foot problems are being caused by a bunion, the doctor will check whether the joint at the base of the big toe is bulging, look at the position of the toes in relation to each other, and see how well they can move. He or she will also look at the position of the legs. The examination is done while the patient is standing, walking and sitting. The doctor also looks at the state of the skin on the foot, checks for signs of osteoarthritis, and asks about the symptoms and how – if at all – they affect everyday life activities. To get a clearer diagnosis, the foot is x-rayed in a standing position.

Bunions can vary a lot in severity. The severity is determined based on the angle between the big toe and the foot bone leading up to it (the first metatarsal bone).

The difference between a “normal” big toe joint and a bunion isn’t always clear. Many people have mild bunions that never cause any problems.


To prevent bunions, people are advised to wear comfortable, flat shoes. If there’s enough room for the front of the foot, there’s less pressure on the toes and the ball of the foot. Other advice includes walking barefoot in order to strengthen the foot muscles and allow the feet and toes to be in their natural position. Some doctors recommend using orthopedic shoe inserts (insoles). But there’s not a lot of research on how well this can prevent bunions.


Bunions can get worse over time. Treatment is only needed if they cause problems. The most suitable treatment will depend on a number of factors, including the symptoms, the type of deformity, and whether the person has other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or vascular (blood vessel) disease.

There are various conservative (non-surgical) treatments that aim to relieve the symptoms of bunions: Only a few good-quality studies have looked into how well they work, though.

  • Splints: These toe-spacers or toe-supports are used to keep the big toe in a normal position. The aim is to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of the bunion – although it’s not clear whether this is possible. They can’t correct the misalignment. Splints are typically used at night.

  • Well-fitting shoes: People are advised to wear flat shoes that give the toes enough room. If the toes or big toe joint hurt, bunion pads can be used. If the middle part of the foot hurts (metatarsalgia), the toes can be cushioned or supported using shoe inserts or wearing special “rocker bottom shoes.” Walking barefoot as much as possible is also recommended.

  • Physiotherapy: Special exercises can be done to try to strengthen and stretch the foot muscles.

  • Painkillers: These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the form of tablets or an ointment. Due to potential side effects, tablets should only be used over a short period of time.

The few studies on conservative treatments suggest that measures such as wearing well-fitting shoes and using splints can only provide very little relief.

If the symptoms are severe and don’t get better, surgery can relieve them. Surgery is the only way to treat the cause of the symptoms, by correcting the misalignment. But there’s no guarantee that surgery will make the symptoms go away completely, and it can have side effects.


  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Orthopädie und Orthopädische Chirurgie (DGOOC). Hallux valgus. AWMF-Registernr.: 033-018. April 2014.

  • Hollander K, Heidt C, Van der Zwaard BC, Braumann KM, Zech A. Long-Term Effects of Habitual Barefoot Running and Walking: A Systematic Review. Med Sci Sport Exerc 2017; 49(4): 752-762. [PubMed: 27801744]

  • Klugarova J, Hood V, Bath-Hextall F, Klugar M, Mareckova J, Kelnarova Z. Effectiveness of surgery for adults with hallux valgus deformity: a systematic review. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep 2017; 15(6): 1671-1710. [PubMed: 28628523]

  • Nix SE, Vicenzino BT, Collins NJ, Smith MD. Characteristics of foot structure and footwear associated with hallux valgus: a systematic review. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2012; 20(10): 1059-1074. [PubMed: 22771775]

  • Wülker N, Mittag F. The treatment of hallux valgus. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(49): 857-867; quiz 868. [PMC free article: PMC3528062] [PubMed: 23267411]

  • Zirngibl B, Grifka J, Baier C, Götz J. Hallux valgus. Ätiologie, diagnostische und therapeutische Prinzipien. Orthopade 2017; 46(3): 283-296. [PubMed: 28251259]

  • IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping
    people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health
    care services.

    Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the
    German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual
    case can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.

    Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a
    team of
    health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can
    find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in
    our methods.

How to Get Rid of a Foot Bunion

Living with bunions can be uncomfortable and make standing, walking and other daily activities painful. If you have bunions, you are likely looking for effective bunion pain relief so you can return to your daily responsibilities. Learn more about what causes bunions and how to find relief from discomfort, irritation and pain.

What Are Foot Bunions?

A bunion is a bony growth that develops on the joint at the big toe’s base and typically develops when bones in the front of the foot are moved out of place. Shifting bones can cause the top portion of the big toe to pull inward towards the other toes, causing the joint at the base of your big toe to protrude. The skin over a bunion is often inflamed, swollen and painful.

Bunions may develop for many reasons, but wearing narrow, tight or too small shoes is a leading cause of bunion development or worsening bunions. Bunions may develop due to a foot deformity, the shape of your foot or a medical condition, including arthritis. Small bunions, commonly referred to as bunionettes, also develop outside of the joint of the smallest toe.

What Causes Foot Bunions?

Bunions develop slowly over time, meaning the more you wear ill-fitting shoes or go without treatment, the more likely your bunion is to worsen. Over time, bunions cause the natural structure of the bone to change, resulting in the signature bump a bunion is known for. Without proper treatment or correction, this bump will worsen, making it difficult or painful to walk and wear shoes.

Research has found 23% of adults 18 to 65 experience bunions, and 36% of adults over 65 develop bunions. While anyone may develop a bunion, it is more common in women. Bunions have numerous causes and are often more common with old age. Some of the most common causes of bunions include:

  • High heels: Wearing high heels can cause pressure on your toes, forcing them to the front of the shoe. Higher heels have even more severe effects than shorter heels, often causing bunions to develop.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Many preexisting medical conditions can increase a person’s likelihood of developing bunions. One of the most common conditions that may make bunions more likely is rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Poorly fitting shoes: The fit of your shoe plays an essential role in the health of your feet. Wearing too small or otherwise ill-fitting shoes can increase a person’s chance of developing bunions.
  • Genetics: If you have a family history of bunions, you may be more likely to inherit a problem with the anatomy or structure of your feet.
  • Injury: An acute foot injury can negatively impact the foot’s structure and increase the likelihood of developing bunions.

Symptoms of Foot Bunions

Each person is different and may experience varying bunion symptoms. Symptoms will vary depending on the severity and how long the bunion has been left untreated. Some of the most common symptoms of a foot bunion include:

  • Bump: One of the most apparent symptoms of a bunion is a bump that forms on the side of the foot slightly below the big toe. Each toe is attached to a metatarsal bone within the foot. As a bunion forms, this bone becomes displaced, adding pressure to and enlarging the metatarsal, which causes the characteristic bump of a bunion to form.
  • Pain: As bunions form slowly over time, years of abnormal pressure on the toes and foot paired with improperly fitting shoes can cause pain within the metatarsal and surrounding areas. Bunions are uncomfortable and, in severe cases, can cause excessive pain, making standing or walking difficult or even impossible.
  • Numbness: Some people with bunions may also experience periodic tingling or numbness. Numbness is a common bunion symptom that can develop when sensitive nerves within the foot become compressed by the bones of the toes and foot. When compressed, nerves cannot function properly, causing a loss of sensation in the foot or toe.
  • Difficulty walking: Severe bunions can disrupt daily life and decrease the overall quality of life. If someone has severe pain, nerve damage or swelling, wearing shoes can be difficult. Many patients may even have trouble walking or standing, negatively impacting their ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Corns or calluses: As a bunion forms and a bump develops, there is increased pressure in this area of the foot, especially when wearing shoes or walking. Corns and calluses also form on the feet as a reaction to continued pressure. When a bunion rubs against the inside of a shoe, calluses and corns can form on the bunion.

At-Home Treatments for Foot Bunions

At-home treatments can be an effective solution without surgery that can alleviate pain and discomfort. While surgery is an effective treatment option for many patients, some may experience adequate bunion relief from nonsurgical treatments. In most cases, a physician will recommend nonsurgical treatments before recommending a patient undergo foot surgery for bunions.

1. Shoes

Shoes play a large role in the health of your feet and can contribute to the development of bunions. If you experience bunion pain, look at your footwear and see if your shoes may be worsening or even causing your problem. Ideally, you should only wear bunion-friendly footwear to reduce pain and discomfort, minimizing symptoms and preventing bunions from worsening.

Look at the shoe’s structure, paying close attention to its pressure points. Opting for footwear with mesh or stretch panels can help minimize the pressure placed on the foot and toes. Typically, it is best to avoid leather panels or those made out of restrictive material that may worsen binding.

2. Padding

Bunion pads can help temporarily relieve pain and discomfort from bunions by creating a protective barrier between a person’s shoe and bunion. Padding can improve bunion symptoms by preventing excess rubbing and irritation, which is often why many bunions develop. Bunion pads are best when combined with bunion-friendly shoes that are spacious enough not to cramp the toes and feet.

Bunion padding often comes in two forms, with the first being similar to a sock that covers most of the foot, protecting the side of the big toe where a bunion forms. Bunion padding may also be a small cushion you can place between the bunion and the inside of your shoe. Bunion pads often have an adhesive to keep the padding secure while standing or walking.

3. Shoe Inserts

Shoe inserts can also minimize the pain and discomfort associated with bunions. There are pre-made shoe inserts you can purchase at your local pharmacy to alleviate foot pain. You may also want to consider having custom orthotics created to fit your foot’s unique curvature and provide the most noticeable results. Custom orthotics can restore foot function and improve the alignment of the foot and toes.

Orthotics can also prevent bunions from worsening, minimizing the need for extensive surgery.

4. Overnight Splint

An overnight bunion splint wraps around your feet and helps to align your toes. You can wear these splints overnight and when you will not be wearing footwear. Although a splint will not cure a bunion, it can relieve various painful symptoms, including discomfort and inflammation. Splints help ensure proper alignment of the foot and toes to alleviate the pressure that causes and worsens bunions.

Because overnight splints help ensure healthy alignment within the foot and toes, they can temporarily improve the tingling or numbness from nerve pressure and improper alignment. Overnight bunion splints help stretch tendons and ligaments, promote proper alignment and improve or break apart areas of scar tissue.

5. Ibuprofen

Over-the-counter medicine, including ibuprofen, can help relieve pain from bunions. Joint disorders, such as bunions, commonly cause pain from excess inflammation, making anti-inflammatory medicine an effective treatment modality. Ibuprofen can minimize swelling, helping to alleviate pressure and tension that causes pain.

While the effects are temporary, ibuprofen can improve painful symptoms, especially when you may notice more pronounced or severe bunion symptoms.

6. Ice

Ice packs and cold compresses can also improve bunion symptoms, especially if you notice symptoms after a long day on your feet. Ice packs can reduce painful swelling and inflammation while relieving overall soreness. You may want to check with your physician before regularly applying ice packs if you have existing circulation problems or reduced feeling.

Regularly applying ice packs to a bunion can help control its size and prevent the bunion from worsening. Most patients only use ice packs when they notice swelling or discomfort, which may occur at the end of the day or after work.

7. Warm Soaks 

A warm soak can benefit your feet and toes if you are experiencing bunion symptoms. If you spend a lot of your day on your feet or walking, you may want to consider regularly soaking your feet in warm water after the day. Warm soaks can improve painful bunion symptoms and alleviate tension, stress and general discomfort.

You can soak your feet in a special foot bath or fill your tub just enough to cover your feet. Adding a sprinkle of Epsom salt can make a warm soak even more relaxing and helpful. Soaking with Epsom salt can alleviate muscle pain and calm achy, sore joints.

8. Massage

A foot massage can promote relaxation and healing within the feet and toes. A massage can improve circulation within the foot while decreasing stiffness. One of the most beneficial aspects of a massage for bunions is reducing the overall amount of pain or discomfort you experience daily. A massage is even more effective when combined with other bunion treatment modalities.

A bunion has a trigger point, which can cause the muscles and ligaments to tense and shorten. A bunion massage can alleviate this strain and stretch out the surrounding muscles. At first, it may be normal to experience slight discomfort when beginning to massage. Be gentle to your feet, as they can be quite sensitive with bunions.

9. Foot Exercises

Since bunions form over time, daily and weekly habits play a significant role in the health of your feet. Physical therapy with simple at-home foot exercises is an excellent option to strengthen the feet and minimize painful bunion symptoms. Foot exercises and toe stretches can improve joint health and your foot’s mobility and range of motion.

Additionally, foot exercises help strengthen the foot muscles and maintain flexibility. You can perform many foot exercises to improve foot health, making these exercises easy to implement into your daily or weekly routine.

10. Healthy Lifestyle

While many people may not realize it, your diet can directly affect foot health and bunions. Many bunion symptoms result from excessive inflammation in the body, so you may want to consider following an anti-inflammatory diet that minimizes inflammatory foods, drinks and spices. Some of the most common things that cause excess inflammation include highly processed snack foods, sugary drinks and highly refined or bleached flour.

Surgical Treatment for Foot Bunions

Bunion surgery, also known as bunionectomy, is a specialized surgery designed to improve bunions and related bunion symptoms. If you are not experiencing relief from nonsurgical treatments, your physician may suggest bunion surgery to improve your symptoms and correct a bunion at its source.

When to Get Treatment

Because bunions develop and worsen over time, you may wonder when to see a doctor about your symptoms. Generally, early intervention is the most effective way to minimize the severity of a bunion and prevent it from worsening to a severe or larger stage. Although most bunions do not require immediate medical attention, a physician’s recommendations can help you make lifestyle changes and potentially reduce the bunion’s severity.

Patients who regularly experience severe pain or discomfort should consider scheduling an appointment with their doctor. Additionally, if a bunion negatively impacts your daily life or prevents you from walking, wearing shoes or performing essential tasks, you should see a physician for treatment suggestions. Professional bunion treatments can correct a painful bunion and help you regain the ability to stand, walk and perform daily tasks comfortably.

Another complication of a worsening bunion is the inability to find shoes that fit properly. As the bump of a bunion develops, it causes the foot to widen, which can lead to your shoes no longer fitting. If there is an overlap between your big toe and your second toe, this may also indicate you should seek medical attention. While these severe symptoms may be an obvious indicator you should see a doctor, some patients may only experience moderate symptoms.

A good rule of thumb for patients experiencing moderate bunion symptoms is to note how long these symptoms last. Keep track of whether the pain occurs daily, during certain actions or a few times a week. As you assess your symptoms, you may want to call a doctor if your symptoms worsen or do not improve after two to three weeks of at-home bunion remedies.

Types of Foot Bunion Surgery

If you do not experience relief with nonsurgical bunion treatments, you may want to consider bunion surgery. While nonsurgical bunion treatments help many patients experience relief, severe cases may only improve with surgical intervention. Some of the main types of foot bunion surgery include:

  • Fusion: Bunion fusion surgery may be recommended to stop a bunion from worsening and easing tension within the toe’s joint. A bunion fusion may be performed on the big toe joint or where the metatarsal meets the middle of the foot. The location of fusion surgery will depend on where your bunion and painful symptoms originate.
  • Cut and removal: A cut and removal bunion surgery is when part of the bone within the foot is removed. The size and location of the bone removed depends on the severity of your bunion symptoms. Removing portions of the bone lets your physician reposition the remaining bones in a healthier and more comfortable position. For more extreme bunions, a physician may need to remove the metatarsal head located at the bottom of the big toe. In most cases, a cut and removal procedure is a smaller surgery with a quicker recovery period and is often less expensive than more invasive or extensive bunion surgeries. Minor surgery can help reduce the need for more extensive surgery down the line.
  • Joint implant: An artificial joint implant can replace a damaged or unhealthy joint within the foot that may be causing or worsening bunion symptoms. A bunion surgeon can remove bone spurs and small pieces of bone to make room for the new joint. Bunion joint replacement surgery may be recommended for patients experiencing arthritis symptoms within the feet and toes. A joint implant can reduce arthritis-related pain in the foot and improve the toe’s mobility. A surgeon will also have to correct any damages or misalignment in the foot and toes during a joint implant procedure.

What to Expect From Treatment

The exact details of a bunion treatment vary from patient to patient and depend on the bunion treatment or surgery you may be undergoing. For bunion surgery, a minimum of one incision will be made to access the big toe joint. In some cases, a bunion surgeon may need to make two or more incisions to access the toe joint and correct a bunion.

Surgical time also varies depending on the technique and severity of your bunion symptoms and foot misalignment. In some cases, bunion surgery may take as little as 45 minutes. On the other hand, more complex bunion surgery may take up to three hours. Following bunion surgery, your bunion surgeon will close any incisions. You will then be moved to the recovery room. Most patients are ready to go home within one to two hours but need a friend or family member to drive for them.

Recovery From Foot Bunion Surgery

Following bunion surgery, patients may experience pain or discomfort as they recover, which can be improved with pain medication. Two weeks following your bunion surgery, your bunion surgeon will remove your stitches. It will take anywhere from six to 12 weeks for the bones of the foot to heal fully, and most patients will need to wear a protective boot while the foot continues to heal.

As your foot heals, you will not be able to put direct weight on it. Many patients will need to use crutches, a walker or even a scooter to move safely without causing strain on your healing foot. The amount of weight you can place on the foot and when depends on the bunion surgery you underwent.

Around the six to 12 week mark, you will begin regaining basic foot function. Your physician will recommend bunion physical therapy exercises to strengthen your foot and toes, improving mobility and range of motion. Most patients can resume their daily tasks and activities approximately three months after their surgery.

Common Problems From Foot Bunion Surgery

Although bunion surgery is a safe and effective treatment, there is a small potential for complications or side effects. Some of the most common bunion surgery complications include ineffectiveness to relieve pain or failure for the bone to heal fully. Some patients may also experience infection, big toe stiffness or nerve injury. Finally, while a bunion correction may initially improve symptoms, some patients experience bunion recurrence or a bunion developing again following treatment.

Fortunately, these bunion surgery complications are uncommon and can be treated effectively. When a trained bunion surgeon performs bunion surgery correctly, these risks are also greatly reduced. Before surgery, your physician will discuss and explain and potential complications or side effects. Your doctor will also provide post-operative instructions to minimize your risk of complications.

Find Relief from Foot Bunions

At OrthoBethesda, we are leading providers of foot and ankle treatments, helping you regain the mobility of your feet. We understand bunions can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, negatively impacting your daily life. We strive to provide the latest, most innovative treatments for our patients and provide superior patient care. Along with treating foot and ankle conditions, our team of experts can also address conditions affecting the elbow, knee, hip, shoulder, hands and wrists and spine.

To learn more about our bunion treatments and surgery, contact us online today or call (301) 804-1137.

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Numbness of the limbs. Causes and treatment

Every person has experienced numbness of the limbs. For some, loss of sensation and flexibility in the limbs is a recurring problem that constantly worsens the quality of life.

The well-known feeling of many small needles is a violation of the passage of a nerve impulse from receptors to the brain. Numbness of fingers, hands, legs and other parts of the body, in most cases, is a consequence of finding the body in an uncomfortable position. Sensitivity quickly returns, one has only to change the position. This type of numbness does not carry any danger. But if numbness occurs frequently and is not provoked by the person himself, while being accompanied by dizziness, weakness or pain, this is a symptom of a serious illness.

Elderly people are a special risk group: static tension, leading to numbness, increases with the accumulation of “age-related” diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The return of the nerves to working capacity is difficult in comparison with the same process in a young organism. Also, pregnant women are familiar with numbness of the limbs firsthand. In this case, the cause is most often a pinched nerve endings in the thigh area, a lack of iron in the body and an increased amount of fluid in the tissues.

The most common causes of numbness in the extremities are:

– a pinched nerve, which often occurs with problems of the intervertebral disc – the nerve runs along the back, down to the legs and feet. In this case, numbness can find a way out anywhere, including in the fingers, neck.

– wearing tight shoes or sitting on the feet, which leads to impaired circulation.

– damage to nerve endings as a result of trauma.

– taking drugs that can cause nerve damage.

– Diabetes causes damage to the small blood vessels that supply the nerves in the limbs.

– stroke, multiple sclerosis and brain tumor. Numbness of the limbs as a result of these diseases is just one of the unpleasant symptoms.

– alcohol abuse

– vitamin B12 deficiency

Seek immediate medical attention if numbness is regular and is characterized by the following symptoms:

– prolonged numbness of limbs

– insensitivity to a temperature change of

– weakness, loss of motor activity

– violation of coordination of movements

– mental disorders

– vision of vision

regular feeling of numbness of the body within 3 or more minutes – a good reason to contact a neurologist.

ACME Center has been helping people solve the problems of numbness of the limbs for more than 10 years.

Our specialists have vast experience, numerous proprietary methods, aimed primarily at a drug-free solution to the problem.

The possibilities of the center allow the successful use of such techniques for the treatment of numbness as manual therapy, osteopathic techniques, exercise therapy, therapeutic exercises.

Treat yourself to the joy of freedom of movement – call us at 8-495-792-1202 or fill out the form below and we will call you back in the next 15 minutes.

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Numbness of the legs and arms – treatment, symptoms, causes, diagnosis

Numbness is an abnormal sensation that can occur in any part of the body, but is most commonly felt in the arms and legs. The symptom of numbness is often accompanied by tingling, and can range from fairly harmless, such as in the hands on cooling, to a sign of a serious, life-threatening condition. Numbness is a fairly common symptom. Numbness of the extremities is often accompanied by an emotional context with a sense of detachment and a decrease in emotional coloring, which is usually a sign of depression. In a physical context, numbness is usually the result of damage, circulatory problems, or pathological changes to certain nerves.

In addition, there may be periodic bouts of numbness and tingling due to the presence of certain health problems, such as neurosis or a migraine attack. Also, episodes of numbness can occur during attacks of fear caused by the expectation of life-threatening events, and in such cases, numbness is caused by shallow breathing and affects, most often, the fingers and mouth area.

Numbness of the hands is manifested by a feeling of loss of sensation in the hands, this condition is often referred to by patients as “asleep” hands. Numbness may be accompanied by a pins and needles sensation. Often this numbness occurs after sleeping with your hands under your head. Numbness of the hands is usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, in which the median nerve is compressed. Most often, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of a nerve in the carpal tunnel. In addition, hand numbness may be due to trauma, hypothermia, or systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus. If hand numbness is accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, palpitations, then this may be a sign of acute, life-threatening conditions and requires emergency medical attention.

Numbness in the legs is a loss of feeling or sensation in the legs, resulting from a disruption in the connection between the peripheral nerves and the central nervous system. Usually, leg numbness is associated with impaired circulation in the lower extremities. Most often, this numbness occurs when sitting cross-legged for a long period of time. In such cases, lifting and walking can get rid of numbness after a certain period of time. But numbness in the legs can also be a sign of serious damage to nerve fibers due to mechanical factors (disc herniation, radiculopathy) or nerve damage due to somatic diseases.


Numbness can be a sign of a wide range of diseases or conditions in which there is blood flow restriction or nerve damage.

Temporary numbness may be associated with any activity that causes prolonged pressure on the nerve(s), such as sitting cross-legged or riding a bicycle for long distances. Numbness can also occur due to moderate or severe orthopedic or vascular conditions, or conditions and diseases that cause damage to the nervous system. In some cases, numbness is a symptom of a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical attention.

Cardiovascular causes of numbness

Numbness can be caused by a lack of blood flow to a certain area due to conditions such as:

  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Buerger’s disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis (thrombus in the legs can break off, which can lead to pulmonary embolism in the lungs, heart attack, stroke)
  • Frostbite
  • Diseases of the peripheral arteries (atherosclerosis of the vessels, in which there is a narrowing of the arterial bed).
  • Raynaud’s syndrome, in which persistent spasm of peripheral vessels occurs and blood circulation is disturbed in the distal extremities. Vasospasm is usually provoked by cold or sometimes stress.

Orthopedic causes of numbness

Numbness can also be caused by minor or major orthopedic conditions that cause nerve damage:

  • Whiplash neck
  • Bone fractures
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Degenerative diseases of the intervertebral disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Compression pinched nerve
  • Osteoporosis

Neurological causes of numbness

Numbness due to nerve compression or nerve damage may be due to diseases such as:

  • Alcoholism
  • Brain tumors
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Encephalitis
  • Heavy metal poisoning such as lead poisoning
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Spinal cord injury or tumors
  • Stroke
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Myelitis
  • Myelopathy
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Numbness during pregnancy

Pregnant women experience many changes in their bodies, and numbness is one of them. Some pregnant women develop carpal tunnel syndrome and this is thought to be due to water retention in the body during pregnancy.

As the fetus develops, fluid accumulates in the body, tissues swell, including in the wrist area, compression of the median nerve occurs and carpal tunnel syndrome develops. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are more pronounced in the morning, as there is an accumulation of fluid in the body at night. As a rule, the syndrome of the carpal tunnel of pregnancy is cured on its own after delivery.

Numbness in children

There are many reasons why children may experience numbness in various parts of the body. Malnutrition, lack of vitamins and minerals can cause numbness in the lower extremities, this is especially true for a lack of B vitamins. Sports injuries can also cause numbness. Therefore, in childhood, parents need to pay attention to children’s complaints of numbness, which lasts more than a few minutes and may be a sign of damage to ligaments, tendons or bone fractures. Often, anxiety in childhood can be a source of numbness of the lips and face.


Numbness is usually due to poor circulation in a certain area or nerve damage. Sensory disturbances (numbness) can also be the result of infection, inflammation, trauma, and other pathological processes. In most cases, numbness is associated with non-life-threatening conditions, but it can also be a sign of a stroke or tumor.

Numbness in the extremities is often associated with pain or may be accompanied by other sensory disturbances such as burning, tingling. Strokes also present with movement and speech disorders. Depending on the cause, numbness may disappear quickly, for example numbness in the hand that occurs when a person is sleeping with his head on his hand, disappears after a few hand movements. Chronic numbness of the leg or arm over a long period of time, usually indicating some level of nerve damage, such as from diabetes mellitus or multiple sclerosis. Chronic numbness of the fingers may be due to nerve entrapment, as is the case with carpal tunnel syndrome. In any case, numbness that lasts for more than a few minutes is worthy of attention and medical attention. And if a person has numbness in the groin area and dysfunction of the bladder and intestines, or there are signs of paralysis, confusion, speech impairment, then in such cases it is necessary to seek emergency medical help.

Symptoms that may accompany numbness:

  • Anxiety
  • Burning sensation
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased numbness or tingling while walking
  • Itching
  • Low back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in other parts of the body
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Rash
  • Hypersensitivity to touch

A number of symptoms that accompany numbness can be a sign of serious conditions and this should be taken into account by the doctor, as emergency medical care and necessary medical procedures are often required.

These symptoms are:

  • Lethargy or momentary loss of consciousness
  • Labored breathing
  • Difficulties in walking
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of control over voluntary urination or defecation
  • Visual impairments
  • Numbness in the head, neck, back
  • Paralysis
  • Speech disorders (dysarthria)
  • Weakness

Diagnosis and treatment

The doctor prescribes an examination plan based on the history of the disease, examination of symptoms and physical examination, which includes both instrumental and laboratory examinations.

To treat numbness, first of all, it is necessary to find out the cause of this symptom. If numbness is associated with circulatory disorders, diabetes or multiple sclerosis, the underlying disease is treated, both with the help of conservative methods of treatment, and with an operative method (for example, in case of vascular diseases).