Tingling in the hands or feet may be due to sitting or sleeping in an unusual position. It may also be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a pinched nerve, a vitamin deficiency, or diabetes complications.

There are many reasons why someone may experience tingling in their feet and hands, most of which are temporary.

Unusual posture may put pressure on a nerve and cause a tingling sensation in the feet or hands. People often refer to this as “pins and needles.”

Some causes of tingling in feet or hands are more serious and may require proper diagnosis and treatment.

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A lot of causes of tingling sensations are linked to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This is a type of nerve damage that leads to tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.

Various conditions lead to peripheral neuropathy. It affects an estimated 2.4% of the general population.

The causes of peripheral neuropathy and other reasons that feet or hands may tingle are explored here.

1. Pinched nerve

A person may experience tingling in their feet or hands because of a pinched nerve in the back. This may have happened as a result of injury or swelling.

Other symptoms of a pinched nerve include pain and limited movement. Treatment for a pinched nerve can involve:

Surgery is another option if none of these treatments are effective.

2. Toxins

Swallowing something toxic or a toxin being absorbed through the skin may cause tingling in the feet.

Toxins that may cause this include:

Treatment for toxin exposure needs to be carried out urgently and will depend on the substance.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is a toxin and can damage nerve tissue. Drinking too much alcohol may lead to a type of peripheral neuropathy known as alcoholic neuropathy.

This condition can cause pain and tingling in the limbs, hands, and feet. These symptoms happen because the peripheral nerves have been damaged by alcohol.

Studies have shown that up to 66% of people who are classified as long-term alcoholics experience alcoholic neuropathy. Treatments focus on helping the individual reduce or stop their excessive drinking.

4. Anxiety

People who experience anxiety may hyperventilate, which can cause tingling in the upper and lower extremities.

Hyperventilating is a common symptom of anxiety and is characterized by breathing very rapidly. This causes an imbalance in carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, which may result in the feet tingling.

Tingling in the feet and anxiety may be linked psychologically. This is why, when a person feels anxious, they may be more aware of their bodily sensations.

Anxiety treatments include:

5. Pregnancy

Tingling in the feet is often experienced when someone is pregnant. The uterus may put pressure on the nerves in a person’s legs as their baby grows. This may cause tingling, often described as “pins and needles.”

Staying hydrated, changing positions, and resting with the feet up can help relieve the sensation.

Someone should see a doctor if:

  • tingling in the feet fails to go away
  • the limbs feel weak
  • feet or limbs swell up

A doctor can ensure there is nothing else wrong if someone is pregnant and they experience tingling sensations.

6. Repetitive strain injury

Repetitive strain injury or RSI may cause tingling in the hands. RSI happens when a person carries out repetitive activities for too long without rest.

RSI is also known as work-related upper limb disorder. It can be the result of poor posture.

RSI commonly affects:

  • wrists and hands
  • forearms and elbows
  • shoulders

Other symptoms of RSI may include:

  • pain
  • aching
  • stiffness
  • throbbing
  • weakness
  • cramp

Treatments for RSI include anti-inflammatory drugs and cold packs.

7. Vitamin deficiency

Deficiency of vitamins E, B-1, B-12, or niacin may cause tingling in the hands or feet. This can also happen with vitamin B-6 toxicity. These vitamins are vital for nerve function.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency may lead to peripheral neuropathy. Other symptoms include:

Vitamin deficiencies can be treated by eating a more healthy diet or by dietary supplements.

8. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-term condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.

Numbness or tingling in the feet is an early symptom of MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. People with the condition may experience tingling before diagnosis.

This tingling can be attributed to demyelination in the brain and spinal cord, which is the breakdown of the protective covering of nerve fibers. This leads to disruptions in nerve signal transmission.

Other symptoms of MS include:

If someone suspects they may have MS, they should speak with their doctor, who can help them reach a diagnosis.

Treatments for MS include:

9. Medication

Certain medications may cause tingling in the hands or feet as one of their side effects.

Medications that may cause this symptom include those that treat:

10. Infections

Certain infections cause nerves to become inflamed. This inflammation may lead to tingling in the hands or feet.

Infections that may cause this include:

Anyone who suspects they may have an infection should speak to a doctor so that they can do the appropriate tests. These often involve a blood test.

A doctor can advise on the best course of treatment once they have diagnosed an infection.

11. Kidney failure

Tingling in the feet or hands may be a sign of kidney failure. Diabetes and high blood pressure both increase the risk of kidney failure.

Other symptoms of kidney failure include muscle cramps, itchy skin, and swollen ankles, feet, or hands.

Anyone who suspects they may have a problem with their kidneys should speak to their doctor for tests to reach a diagnosis.

Kidney failure can be treated through dialysis or a kidney transplant.

12. Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune disease may cause tingling in the feet or hands. Autoimmune disease occurs when the body attacks itself.

Autoimmune diseases that may cause tingling include:

To diagnose an autoimmune disease, a doctor may:

Treatments for autoimmune diseases include medication and dietary changes.

13. Diabetes

Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which may lead to nerve damage. People with diabetes may experience persistent tingling in the feet as a result. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.

Other diabetes symptoms include:

Treatments for diabetes include:

  • medication, including insulin, to control blood sugar
  • dietary changes
  • exercise

It’s reported that 50-60% of people with diabetes will develop diabetic neuropathy in their lifetime.

14. Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease or PAD affects the circulatory system, causing blood vessels to become narrower. This may lead to poor circulation, which can cause tingling in the feet or hands.

PAD may result in a stroke or heart attack due to plaque buildup in the arteries if it is left untreated. Treatments include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery.

15. Stroke

Tingling in the feet or hands may be a sign of a stroke.

Symptoms come on suddenly and may include:

  • numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side
  • confusion
  • trouble speaking
  • trouble understanding
  • blurred vision
  • trouble walking
  • dizziness
  • loss of balance
  • loss of coordination

People should call emergency services immediately if they experience one or more of these symptoms.

Treatments for stroke include thrombolytic drugs, which help to treat any blood clots.

Below are some commonly asked questions about tingling in the hands and feet.

What is tingling in the hands and feet a symptom of?

Tingling in the hands and feet can be a symptom of many conditions, such as:

  • alcoholic neuropathy
  • anxiety
  • pregnancy
  • repetitive strain injury
  • vitamin b12 deficiency
  • multiple sclerosis

What deficiency causes tingling in the hands and feet?

Several vitamin deficiencies can cause tingling in the hands and feet, primarily due to their role in nerve function and health.

A lack of B vitamins, in particular, such as vitamin B12, can present as peripheral neuropathy.

When should a person go to the ER for tingling hands and feet?

If tingling in the hands and feet is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, a person may be having a stroke:

  • numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side
  • confusion
  • trouble speaking, understanding, and walking
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • loss of balance
  • loss of coordination

In this case, a person should call emergency services or go to the emergency room immediately.

Can heart problems cause tingling in the hands and feet?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a disease of the blood vessels outside the heart and brain. This condition may lead to poor circulation, which can cause tingling in the feet or hands.

People who experience tingling in their feet or hands regularly should speak with their doctor. They should also tell their doctor about any related symptoms. The doctor can help reach a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.

People should call emergency services without delay if they suspect they or someone else may be having a stroke.