What Is Hand Paresthesia?

Madeleine A.

Hand paresthesia refers to the common condition that causes the hand to tingle with a "pins and needles" type sensation. In addition, a person experiencing hand paresthesia may complain that his hand feels like it fell asleep. Although most of the time, hand paresthesia is a benign condition that is caused by positional nerve compression, when it becomes a regular event, it may indicate the presence of a more serious medical condition.

Massaging the hand can help relieve paresthesia.
Massaging the hand can help relieve paresthesia.

Sometimes hand paresthesia can be related to diabetes-related nerve damage. This is known as diabetic neuropathy, and it not only produces hand paresthesia, it can also cause paresthesias in the feet. Furthermore, not only is tingling skin and numbness present, severe pain can also occur. Other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, or a herniated disc can also cause hand paresthesia, as well as parathesia of the legs and feet.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, common in web programmers and other computer users, can occasionally cause tingling in the hands.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, common in web programmers and other computer users, can occasionally cause tingling in the hands.

Occasionally, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause the hands to feel tingly. Vitamin B6 is sometimes prescribed for carpal tunnel syndrome because it can help reduce numbness and restore normal function. When hand paresthesia is simply caused by overuse, or by the hand "falling asleep," massaging the hand and opening and closing the fingers can usually resolve the condition.

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When diabetes or other medical conditions are thought to be the cause of paresthesia, the underlying condition must first be treated before the paresthesia can be resolved. To rule out a medical reason for hand paresthesia, the physician may recommend blood tests, a physical examination and even an MRI. If no medical condition is found, and if symptoms persist, hand splints and paraffin wax treatments may be effective in relieving symptoms and restoring feeling to the hands.

The physician might also recommend a series of exercises to improve circulation, or he may refer the patient to a physical therapist. In addition, a nutritionist may be recommended because certain types of numbness and tingling in the extremities can be related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables might improve symptoms.

When prolonged paresthesias of the hand remains, the individual should not assume that the cause is benign in nature. The health care provider should be notified so that he can pursue addition medical tests and evaluations. Chances are that an organic cause will not be found, but all avenues of possibilities need to be explored. In addition, the patient needs to tell the physician if paresthesias or numbness runs in his or her family, or if he has a hobby or job that requires him to use his hands in a repetitive manner.

A model of a human hand.
A model of a human hand.

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Discussion Comments


@feruze-- That sounds a lot like me but mine is not due to anxiety. I have chronic hyperventilation syndrome (CHVS). I hyperventilate like you do when you get an anxiety attack. But mine happens because of a neurological condition, not a psychologic one. And I also have paresthesia because of it.

The paresthesia is mostly in my hands and sometimes my face. I don't just go numb but I get really dizzy and lightheaded too.

It's actually not because of a lack of oxygen as you think. Hyperventilation causes a decrease in the carbon dioxide amount in the blood, not oxygen. We actually need carbon dioxide along with oxygen for our body to be properly oxygenated. So it's the lack of carbon dioxide that causes paresthesia.

You should breathe into a paper bag when it happens. When you do this, you get more carbon dioxide and the hyperventilation will slow down and eventually stop.


I experience hand and feet paresthesia when I'm having an anxiety attack. It can even go beyond that and spread to my arms and legs if it's a really bad attack.

I'm not entirely sure why it happens but I think it might have to do with adrenaline hormones or lack of oxygen. I read that when we experience anxiety, it's because of a release of adrenaline hormones. This hormone is part of our natural fight or flight response that helps us when we're in danger.

When I have an anxiety attack, my breathing quickens and I don't get as much oxygen as I should. First it feels like there is too much blood flowing in my arms and hands (the adrenaline), and as I have more trouble breathing my hands and feet start to go numb. The numbness doesn't go away until the anxiety attack is over which takes anywhere between 5-10 minutes.

One time, the paresthesia was so bad that my hands, feet, legs, arms and even my face became numb. I basically collapsed because I couldn't keep myself up.

I haven't had hand and feet paresthesia for a while now because I'm taking anti-anxiety medication that prevents anxiety attacks. I hope I never have them again. It's really scary.


My mom experiences hand paresthesia sometimes. Thankfully, it's not serious, the doctor said that it's related to carpel tunnel syndrome.

When it happens, she complains of pain in her hand and wrists and rarely numbness too. I massage her hands in the direction of her arms with some massage lotion when this happens. It helps a lot for numbness. If there is pain, she uses a topical analgesic cream and that helps too.

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