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Numbness

INTRODUCTION

  • Numbness is a condition where a person suffers deficiency or loss of feel (sensation).
  • The condition is usually caused by peripheral nerve impingement.
  • Numbness can occur on any part of the body depending on the type and location of the affected nerve.
  • Numbness more often is felt on the fingertips, palms, soles, upper arms and legs.

Numbness can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Injury to the nerves in an accident
  • Peripheral nerve compress caused by ‘herniated disc’ or osteophytes formed as a result of a degenerative process
  • Infection of the peripheral nerves such as in shingles
  • Diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke and hypothyroidism
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (Median nerve is compressed in the wrist area)
  • Lack of vitamins in the body, such as vitamin B12 and folate deficiency
  • Side effects of drugs, such as isoniazide. Nerve damage due to toxic substances such as lead poisoning, alcohol and cigarettes

ACTION TO BE TAKEN

  • See your doctor if you experience numbness for further examination and treatment
  • See your doctor immediately, if you feel numbness in the following situations:
    • you had an accident involving the head
    • if you experience symptoms such as limb weakness, difficulty speaking, dizziness and headaches that come with sudden severity
  • Get an appointment to see a doctor immediately if you experience numbness that worsens quickly, involving both the upper and lower body- especially when you do certain activities; the numbness could be at the tip of toes and hands

DIAGNOSIS / TREATMENT

  • The doctor will interview, carry out physical examination and perform tests as needed to assist in making the diagnosis
  • Numbness may disappear or at least be prevented from worsening after receiving specific treatment for the disease that causes numbness
  • Numbness that spreads rapidly needs immediate attention of the doctor
  • Numbness that causes weakening and paralysis also needs immediate attention of the doctor

 

Last Reviewed : 10 October 2014
Writer : Dr. Salmiah Md Sharif
Translator : Varuges V.M Abraham
Accreditorr : Dato’ Dr. Hj. Md Hanip b. Rafia