Can Numbness Be Dangerous?

Numbness is a condition which is defined as a loss of sensation or a reduced sense of touch. Primarily, numbness results from blockages in the blood vessels or any damage to a nerve. Numerous studies suggest that numbness is a side effect of medical conditions and there is no single medical condition that can cause numbness. But, there are several medical conditions that can affect the nerves and causes problems with sensations.

1.Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that is often accompanied by numbness and tingling. It is a most common neurological disorder which affects the peripheral nerves. These nerves also carry signals from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles to generate movement. Whenever any damage occurs to the peripheral nervous system, an interference occurs with these vital connections.

Since, the peripheral nervous system consists of motor, sensory and autonomic nerves, the symptoms fall in all the three categories. The early symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle cramping
  • weakness

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy usually begin in the longest nerve in the body. Therefore, it first affects the feet and then hands. Also, symptoms spread slowly and along with feet and hands other body parts can also be affected by this disease. Peripheral neuropathies can present in a variety of forms and can be present in the different pattern.


2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which results from an increased pressure on the median nerve at the wrist. The pressure on the median nerve occurs when the tendons in the wrist become swollen and they press on the nerve.

The carpal nerve consists of the bones in the wrist and a ligament which run across the base of the palm. Various tendons and median nerve run through the tunnel to supply movement and sensation to the fingers. An increased pressure on the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. Numbness, tingling, pain in hands and wrist are some of the most common symptoms of this disorder. Other possible symptoms of this disease include:

  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Weak grip
  • A tendency to drop things

Generally, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are more often felt during the night and can disturb the sleep. But it is most noticeable when an individual wakes up in the morning. When the nerve is squeezed, it causes pain, tingling, and numbness in an affected hand. There are several factors that can cause pressure on the nerves and some factors include swelling of the lining of the tendons, joint dislocations, fractures, arthritis, and fluid retention during pregnancy.

3. Brachial plexus injury

Brachial plexus is a severe peripheral nerve injury that affects the upper extremities and results in functional damage and physical disabilities. Brachial plexus is a network of nerves that supply sensation and motor function to the upper extremity. It involves sudden damage to the nerves and causes symptoms like

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Loss of feeling
  • Loss of movement in the shoulder

Closed trauma is the most common cause of brachial plexus injury and the common mechanism causing closed trauma is traction or compression. When this disease is caused by traction, the nerve may get injured from the root or severely stretched. These injuries can result from a violent widening of the scapulohumeral angle, accompanied by shoulder dislocation and fractures of the humerus.


4. Porphyria

A porphyria is a group of metabolic disorders that involve the skin, disorders of the liver or nervous system and the combination of all the three. Porphyria is divided into two types - acute and chronic.

  • Acute porphyrias -  This type of porphyrias is defined as periodic acute attacks of neurovisceral symptoms and can stay for a long time. It includes four major disorders, namely doss porphyria, acute intermittent porphyria, hereditary coproporphyria, and variegate porphyria. These disorders are usually characterized by symptoms like abdominal pain, neurologic defects, colored urine, and psychiatric symptoms.
  • Chronic porphyrias - This type of porphyrias do not occur as an acute attack of neurovisceral symptoms and may not involve liver or nervous system. Chronic porphyrias include syndromes, congenital erythropoietic porphyria, erythropoietic porphyria, and porphyria cutanea tarda. 

Some other common symptoms that occur in patients having porphyria are as follows:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Loss of sensation
  • Cramping
  • Back pain
  • Muscle weakness

Numbness is a symptom which is ignored by many people but it is important to know that it can be a sign of any underlying disease. Share this post with your family and friends to create awareness. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!!



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