Recent Blog Articles
Prediabetes diagnosis as an older adult: What does it really mean?
Is blood sugar monitoring without diabetes worthwhile?
Large review study finds low risk of erectile dysfunction after prostate biopsy
Does exercise help protect against severe COVID-19?
A new Alzheimer’s drug has been approved. But should you take it?
Need physical therapy? 3 key questions your PT will ask
COVID-19 vaccines: Safe and effective for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities
Should we track all breakthrough cases of COVID-19?
Period equity: What is it, why does it matter?
Common questions about medical cannabis
Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or tingling is an unpleasant sensation in which there is reduced or absent feeling in the skin or a "pins and needles" sensation. The most common reason for numbness or tingling is a problem with nerve function, either because the nerve itself is injured, something is pressing on the nerve, or an imbalance in the body's chemistry interferes with nerve function. Most causes are not dangerous, but when muscle weakness or paralysis is also present, numbness and tingling should be treated as an emergency.
There are rare causes of symptoms that will not be included here and would require more detailed evaluation than this guide can provide.
Please keep in mind that this guide is not intended to replace a face-to-face evaluation with your doctor. The goal of this guide is to provide information while awaiting evaluation with your doctor or additional information after you have seen him or her.
Certain symptoms suggest a serious cause of tingling and numbness that requires prompt attention. It's important to ask questions about these symptoms first.
Did your numbness or tingling begin after a significant injury, such as a fall or car accident?
Good, that makes it less likely that your symptoms are due to certain serious causes such as a spine fracture.
Have you noticed any of the following:
inability to move one side of your face
difficulty talking or making yourself understood
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.