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Numbness in the hands and feet refers to a lack of touch sensation in those areas. This common problem may occur due to various reasons, ranging from lack of physical activity to nutritional deficiency.
Causes of Numbness
It is a very common problem, which may occur due to various reasons, including:
- Constant pressure on the hands and feet
- Exposure to cold objects
- Temporary nerve compression
- Nerve injury
- Excessive drinking
- Lack of activity
- Nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12 or magnesium
In some cases, the numbness in body parts such as hands and feet can be caused by medical conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and an underactive thyroid.
Signs and Symptoms of Numbness
In addition to a lack of sensation, other symptoms associated with this condition may include:
- Tingling or burning sensations
- Sharp pain
- Weakness in the affected area
Home Remedies to Relieve Numbness in Hands and Feet
Suffering from numbness in your hands and feet can cause a lot of discomfort. Fortunately, you can treat the problem easily with some simple home remedies such as the following:
1. Apply a warm compress
The first thing you need to do in order to get rid of numbness in the hands and feet is to apply warm compress on the affected area. It helps to increase the blood supply to that part of the body. Moreover, it relaxes the muscles and nerves in the area. (1)
How to use:
- Dip a washcloth in warm water.
- Wring out the excess and then place it on the affected area for 5–7 minutes.
- Repeat several times until the numbness is gone.
You may also take a warm shower or use a heating pad for relief.
2. Massage your hands and feet
Massaging your hands and feet when numbness occurs is an easy yet effective way to tackle this problem. It increases blood circulation, which in turn reduces the numbness. (2) Moreover, it helps stimulate the nerves and muscles, thereby improving their overall functioning.
How to perform:
- Take some warm olive, coconut, or mustard oil on your palm.
- Apply it to the numb area.
- Massage in circular motions with firm fingers for at least 5 minutes.
- Repeat as needed.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise can improve blood circulation and oxygen to all parts of the body, (3) thus preventing numbness and tingling sensations anywhere in the body, including your hands and feet.
Moreover, regular exercise improves mobility and helps prevent a number of health problems. (4)
- Do simple foot and hand exercises for 15 minutes every morning. During breaks at work, do curls and stretches to exercise your arms, wrists, hands, and legs.
- Cardiovascular workouts and aerobic exercises for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, are also of great help.
- Indulge in walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming regularly in order to improve your blood circulation.
Don’t forget to warm-up well before workouts. Wear appropriate exercise shoes and gear.
Note: Refrain from high-impact exercises if they result in numbness in your feet and toes.
4. Use turmeric
Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, helps improve blood flow throughout the body. In addition, its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce pain and discomfort in the affected area. (5)
How to use:
- Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 1 cup of milk. Heat it over a low flame. Also, add a little honey. Drink the mixture once daily to improve your circulation.
- You can also massage the affected area for a few minutes with a paste prepared with turmeric powder and water.
- If you have poor circulation, daily intake of turmeric supplements may help. However, you must consult your doctor before taking supplements.
5. Try using Epsom salt
Soaking your feet in a tub of warm water with Epsom salt can also help in reducing numbness. The magnesium sulfate crystals can help raise magnesium levels in the body and improve blood circulation. (6) Proper blood circulation can help reduce numbness and prevent it from recurring.
How to use:
- Mix ½ cup of Epsom salt in a small tub filled with warm water.
- Soak your feet in this solution for around 10 minutes.
- Repeat this remedy a few times a week.
Note: This remedy is not recommended for people with diabetes or kidney problems. (7)
6. Consume cinnamon
Cinnamon contains numerous chemicals and nutrients, including manganese and potassium as well as several important B vitamins. Its nutritional properties can help improve blood flow to the arms and legs and thus help treat numbness in the hands and feet. (8)
According to experts, consuming 2 to 4 grams of cinnamon powder everyday helps in improving blood circulation.
How to use:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder in 1 glass of warm water. Drink this once daily.
- Another option is to mix together 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and honey and have this mixture every morning for a few weeks.
7. Ginkgo biloba can help
Ginkgo biloba, a popular herb used in Ayurveda, can also help improve blood circulation. (9)(10) Hence, this herb can help reduce and prevent the problem of numbness in the hands and feet. It is available in the market in the form of supplements.
The general dosage of Ginkgo biloba supplement is 40 milligrams, 3 times a day. However, consult your doctor before using this remedy. Ginkgo biloba may interfere with certain medications.
8. Elevating the affected part
Elevation may also help reduce numbness in the hands and feet due to poor circulation. Keep the affected area elevated for several minutes to improve the blood flow. (11)
Once the flow of blood to the affected area gets back to normal, the numbness will go away.
Use pillows to keep your hands and legs elevated.
9. Consume vitamin B-rich foods
To prevent numbness and tingling sensations in your hands and feet, it is essential to eat foods that are high in B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. These vitamins are essential for healthy nerve functioning, and their deficiency can cause numbness in certain body parts, including the hands, arms, fingers, and legs. (12)
How to consume:
- Add foods high in vitamin B6 and B12 to your diet, including eggs, meats, fish, seeds, nuts, fortified cereals, avocados, bananas, beans, oatmeal, milk, cheese, yogurt, and dried fruits.
- You may even consider taking a vitamin B-complex supplement twice daily. Consult your healthcare provider for the correct dosage and type of supplement.
10. Eat magnesium-rich foods
How to consume:
- Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, peanut butter, cold-water fish, soybeans, avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, and low-fat yogurt.
- You may also take magnesium supplements. However, talk with your doctor to discuss the correct dosage.
Prevention of Numbness
- Avoid remaining in the same position for long periods, especially when watching TV or working on the computer.
- Avoid the consumption of caffeine and alcoholic beverages as they may reduce blood circulation.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Consume more of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables. Avoid processed and refined foods.
- Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration as it can cause poor blood circulation.
- Avoid smoking and using other tobacco products as these may overload the nervous system.
- Avoid wearing shoes that don’t fit well to prevent numbness in your feet. High heels or footwear that pinches your toes may also lead to numbness.
When to See a Doctor
Usually, the numbness that lasts only a few minutes is not a matter of concern, but consult a doctor if you experience it frequently and for long periods. This can be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires immediate attention and appropriate treatment.
- If the numbness in your feet is due to staying in one position for a long time, move around slowly to improve blood circulation.
- Losing weight can help in reducing numbness in your feet and toes.
Your hands and feet often get numb due to some relatively benign reasons like poor blood circulation caused by prolonged strain or lack of movement, exposure to cold, poor nutrition etc.
This type of numbness generally subsides after some time and can be avoided through simple home care and preventive measures. But if it happens too often or for too long, you should consult a doctor to rule out any underlying medical condition and seek treatment if needed.