Read below about numbness in both hands, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your numbness in both hands from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Numbness in Both Hands Symptoms

Hand numbness is a loss of sensation. Many people have experienced this sensation when falling asleep for too long on a crooked arm or after activities such as prolonged typing.

Often numbness in both hands is associated with symptoms such as:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles sensation
  • Changes in sensitivity to touch

However, usually the numbness is unilateral and only affects one hand.

If you are experiencing numbness in both hands, take note of the timing and pattern of your symptoms:

  • Does the numbness and any associated symptoms occur in both hands at the same time? Or at different times?
  • Is the numbness and any associated symptoms more severe in one hand versus the other? Or about the same?

Numbness affecting both hands should always be promptly followed-up by your physician, especially if you find the numbness occurring in both hands with the same frequency and severity.

Numbness in Both Hands Causes Overview

Hand numbness is the result of injury, compression or irritation of a nerve or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm or wrist. The hand is composed of many nerves and small blood vessels that begin higher up in the shoulder and arm and branch off in various directions to give blood flow and sensation throughout the hand.

Causes that can affect these components in both hands at the same time are limited and should always be followed up by a doctor.

Systemic causes:

  • Metabolic: Dysfunction in the processes that your body uses day-to-day, for example glucose and insulin dysregulation in diabetes, can damage the peripheral nerves causing numbness in the hands and other parts of the body (peripheral neuropathy).
  • Neurologic: Syringomyelia is a rare disorder in which a fluid-filled cyst forms within the spinal cord. This cyst can grow outward, compressing and damaging the nerves of the spinal cord and resulting in pain, weakness, and numbness. Often the loss of sensation and numbness is described as being in a "cape" (over the tops of the shoulders and into the hands and arms).

Inflammatory causes:

  • Autoimmune: Many inflammatory diseases that result in the body attacking itself can also affect the nerves and cause injury that results in numbness. Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus are examples of such autoimmune diseases. These conditions often cause unilateral symptoms but can sometimes result in bilateral symptoms.
  • Vascular: Raynaud's is a condition in which the arteries in the fingers narrow in response to triggers (often cold weather related). This narrowing prevents blood from circulating properly to the fingers which can result in bilateral numbness and loss of sensation. The fingers often feel extremely cold and can change colors from white to blue to red.

Environmental causes:

  • Toxins: Toxins that cause injury to the nerves include heavy metals such as lead and substances such as alcohol. Too much exposure to either can cause nerve damage that leads to bilateral numbness.
  • Vitamin Imbalance: There are certain vitamins that are essential to healthy nerve function such as vitamins E and B12. Deficiencies in these vitamins over time can lead to nerve damage and injury. Conversely, exposure to too much Vitamin B6 can cause bilateral hand numbness.
  • Stress: For some people, stressful or frightening situations can cause hyperventilation – rapid, shallow breathing in excess of what the body requires. Hyperventilation can result in symptoms of tingling in the hands and other parts of the body. The mechanism behind these symptoms is not clearly understood.

5 Potential Numbness in Both Hands Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Hyperventiliation Syndrome

    In hyperventilation syndrome, one can experience shortness of breath and often a person breaths fast and heavily. There is usually no physical problem causing these symptoms, and symptoms are often caused by anxiety, stress or emotions. Next to shortness of breath, one can experience symptoms of chest pain, palpitations or tingling in hands, feet and face. These symptoms occur commonly as attacks.

    Chronic with relapses

    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, shortness of breath, dizziness, racing heart beat, chest pain
    Symptoms that always occur with hyperventiliation syndrome:
    rapid, deep breaths
    Symptoms that never occur with hyperventiliation syndrome:
    shortness of breath after a few stairs
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Chemotherapy - Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

    Chemotherapy has many effects on the body. Some types of chemotherapy can cause irritation of the nerves in ones hands and feet, resulting in symptoms like pain, numbness or tingling.

    Symptoms can be reversible. In some cases, your chemotherapy regime needs to be adjusted to avoid permanent damage to the nerves.

    Top Symptoms:
    muscle aches, distal numbness, pain in both hands, pain in both feet, numbness
    Primary care doctor

    Numbness in Both Hands Checker

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  3. 3.Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy

    Nerve damage in the limbs can be caused by diabetes, toxic substances, immune system issues and low vitamin levels. However, in about one of every four cases no cause can be found and then the condition is called 'idiopathic'. Symptoms of nerve damage can be (burning) pain sensations, numbness, tingling and weakness in hands, feet or lower legs.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Top Symptoms:
    distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Folate (Vitamin) Deficiency

    Folic acid (folate) is a vitamin that is needed to make new cells in the body, including red blood cells which carry oxygen through the blood and into various tissues throughout the body. Folate deficiency refers to a condition when there is not enough folic acid in the body, and can lead to symptoms such as tiredness, low energy, faintness, and difficulty breathing.

    People recover with no long-term effects within weeks.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea
    Symptoms that never occur with folate (vitamin) deficiency:
    abdominal swelling
    Phone call or in-person visit
  5. 5.Copper Deficiency

    Copper is a mineral that keeps the body healthy. The body doesn't need much copper; however, some people may not get enough in their diet.

    Days with treatment

    Top Symptoms:
    sudden urgency to urinate, difficulty walking, numbness in both hands, muscle stiffness/rigidity, numbness in both thighs
    Primary care doctor

Numbness in Both Hands Treatments and Relief

Bilateral hand numbness is often not resolved at home with simple lifestyle changes or preventive strategies.

Nevertheless, attempting the following strategies below can help your current condition.

  • Eating a diet rich in essential vitamins to keep the nerves healthy: Fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins can provide your body with the nutrients necessary to maintain healthy, functioning nerves.
  • Regular exercise: Maintaining an optimal weight with exercise as well as a balanced diet can prevent and also control metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Visit your physician to discuss the exact cause of your symptoms in order to get appropriate care.

Depending on the cause of your symptoms, your physician may suggest:

  • Medications to relax blood vessels: There are many different kinds of medications that can combat constriction in your blood vessels by dilating (relaxing) them and promoting circulation.
  • Anticonvulsants: Numbness is not the result of seizures, but some anticonvulsant medications are useful to treat numbness.

If you experience any symptoms of speech difficulty, facial drooping, or weakness to the point you cannot raise your hand or arm, call 911 immediately. These could be signs of a stroke.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Numbness in Both Hands

  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.Turn your head toward the side of your body that is hurting. Lift your head up as someone else pushes down on your head. Does this cause greater pain in your upper body? (This is known as Spurling's test.)
  • Q.About your [shoulder], do you notice any of the following?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our numbness in both hands symptom checker to find out more.

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Numbness in Both Hands Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced numbness in both hands have also experienced:

    • 9% Hand Tingling
    • 5% Hand Numbness
    • 4% Pain in Both Hands
  • People who have experienced numbness in both hands had symptoms persist for:

    • 42% Less Than a Day
    • 25% Over a Month
    • 16% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced numbness in both hands were most often matched with:

    • 5% Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
    • 1% Hyperventiliation Syndrome
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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