15 Causes of Tingling Throughout the Body (& What to Do)

Clinical review: Marcelle Pinheiro
Physiotherapist
January 2023

Tingling throughout the body is a symptom that can occur from improper body positioning, like sitting, lying or standing in the same position for a prolonged time. The tingling generally resolves with moving the affected area or local massage. 

Tingling in the body can also be felt with other conditions, like nutritional deficiencies, nerve damage or nerve compression. These conditions may also emerge with other symptoms, like pain, numbness and weakness. Keep in mind that tingling can be a sign of a serious health condition, like a stroke or heart attack, which require immediate medical attention. 

It is important to consult a rheumatologist, family doctor, or orthopedic surgeon if you notice symptoms of tingling or numbness in the body, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms. If you believe you are having a stroke, you should proceed immediately to a hospital or call an ambulance. 

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Causes of tingling throughout body

Tingling that is felt throughout the body may occur for many reasons, such as: 

1. Poor circulation

Lying, sitting or standing in the same position for a long time can lead to tingling. This can particularly be felt when crossing the legs for prolonged periods or having a heavy weight over an extremity, as these situations cause compression of local nerves. 

What to do: Try to move the body and stretch at least once every hour to stimulate optimal blood circulation. When working or taking long trips, you should be take time to move every 2 hours by going to the bathroom, drinking water or drinking a cup of coffee. 

2. Herniated disc  

A herniated disc occurs when an intervertebral disc in the spine ruptures or bulges out of its usually spot. This can cause nerve compression in the area, leading to tingling in the arms or hands, neck pain, or even spinal numbness that radiates to the legs and feet. Check out what else can cause of tingling in the feet

In addition, many patients may report symptoms like numbness and weakness. 

What to do: Treatment for a herniated disc should be guided by an orthopedic surgeon, who may prescribe physiotherapy and medications to relieve pain and inflammation (like analgesics and anti-inflammatories). 

3. Diabetes

Diabetes can cause poor blood circulation, especially in the extremities like the hands and feet. Numbness in this case may be a sign of wounds or ulcers in the area. 

Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to diabetic neuropathy, which is a condition that emerges from consistently high blood sugars. It causes progressive damage to the nerves, and is associated with symptoms like sharp pain, burning, and tingling or numbness that affects the arms, hands or feet.  

What to do: Diabetes should be monitored by an endocrinologist, who may prescribe antidiabetic medications like insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. To relieve pain and numbness, the doctor may prescribe anticonvulsants, antidepressants or opioid, like pregabalin, amitriptyline and tramadol. Learn more about diabetes medications and when certain prescriptions are appropriate to use. 

4. Carpal tunnel syndrome 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an illness caused by compression of the nerve that runs through the wrist to the palm of the hand. It is one of the most common causes of tingling in the fingers and hands and can cause additional symptoms like wrist pain, altered sensitivity, numbness or the sensation of pins and needles, especially in the thumb, index and middle fingers. These symptoms generally worsen at night. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome emerges due to repetitive movements, like working on a computer or with power tools. 

What to do: Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome usually involves the use of a splint to immobilize the wrist (especially at night time), hand stretches and medication like anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids. More severe cases may require interventions like physiotherapy or even surgery. 

5. Stroke

A stroke is a condition associated with tingling in the hands, feet, arms or legs on just one side of the body. It can cause difficulty speaking or smiling, a crooked mouth and an asymmetric face, as well as blurry vision, fainting, headache and vomiting.

A stroke is a life-threatening illness that occurs due to the obstruction or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, leading to decreased blood and oxygen to the brain. 

What to do: You should proceed immediately to the hospital so that treatment can be started. Treatment depends on the type of stroke, and is aimed at decreasing complications like difficulty moving, confusion, or memory loss. 

6. Heart attack

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is characterized by an interruption of blood flow to the heart, resulting in the death of heart cells in the area. It can cause a tight, left chest pain that radiates to the neck, jaw, armpit, back, left arm or right arm. Pain may also be described as numbness or tingling. 

In addition to chest pain and arm pain, other symptoms can occur, like dizziness, general malaise, nausea, cold sweats and pallor.   Read more about the symptoms of a heart attack that you should not ignore. 

What to do: If you notice these symptoms, you should proceed immediately to a hospital or call an ambulance. You should especially be assessed if you have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or high cholesterol. Treatment should be prompt, and may involve the use of medications, catheterization or angioplasty to restore blood flow to the heart and prevent further complications. 

7. B12 deficiency 

A B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage or impede the transmission of nerve impulses along neurons. This can cause tingling or numbness that is particularly felt in the hands, feet or legs. 

In addition, other symptoms may emerge, like muscular pain, difficulty concentrating, diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss. Learn more about the symptoms of a B12 deficiency and what can cause it. 

What to do: You should see your doctor for blood testing to confirm whether a B12 deficiency is present. Treatment involves the use of oral supplements, as well as a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. The doctor may prescribe B12 injections for moderate to severe cases.

8. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease characterized by the breakdown of the myelin sheath that lines the neurons. This breakdown can compromise optimal nervous system functioning and cause symptoms like weakness, difficulty walking or coordinating movements, and numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, and legs. 

What to do: Treatment for multiple sclerosis should be guided by a rheumatologist, who may prescribe physiotherapy and  medications like anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, analgesics and muscle relaxants. Treatment is aimed at slowing the progression of the disease and relieving symptoms.

9. Stress and anxiety 

Tingling throughout the body may also occur with stress or anxiety. These conditions can affect the hands, arms and tongue. With panic attacks, tingling can be felt, as well as cold sweats, palpitations, chest pain and stomach aches. 

What to do: In these cases, you should remove yourself from the stressful environment and seek a calm space. Inhale and exhale deeply, making sure to concentrate on your breathing and improving blood circulation. It is important to adopt a balanced diet and exercise regularly to help relieve stress or anxiety. In some cases, psychological therapy and medication may be necessary to manage symptoms.  

Check-out natural herbs for stress and anxiety that can be used to prepare tea. 

10. Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is an illness that affects the nervous system and causes symptoms like tingling, loss of sensitivity, weakness and pain. Symptoms are typically initially felt in the feet and rise up to the trunk and arms. It may affect the whole body and cause paralysis. 

This condition usually occurs following a flu, dengue infection or Zika infection, and is characterized by the body attacking its own nerve cells as a way to fight off infection. 

What to do: If you suspect you have Guillain-Barré, you should proceed immediately to the emergency room. It is important to treat this condition promptly before it reaches the lungs and affects breathing. 

11. Medication use 

Some medications may cause tingling in the body as a side effect. This may be noted with chemotherapy, HIV medications or metronidazole (an antibiotic).

What to do: You should report any side effects to your doctor to determine whether a decreased dose or alternative medication is required. 

12. Excessive alcohol intake

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for long periods ot time can cause nerve damage in the extremities. This damage is associated with tingling and cramping that is particularly felt in the hands and feet.

What to do: To relieve symptoms, you should decrease or discontinue all alcohol intake. You are advised to follow-up with your doctor to determine whether an other damage has occurred as a result of drinking, like a liver problem or gallbladder stones. 

13. Animal bites 

Animal or bug bites can cause local tingling. You should monitor for symptoms like fever, burning, swelling, tremors and discharge, as these are signs of infection and of rabies. 

What to do: Try to identify the animal or bug that caused the wound and be sure to wash the area well. Seek medical attention if the bite was caused by venomous bug, a dog with signs of rabies, or if you have any of the symptoms listed above. 

14. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic neurological condition that causes generalized body pain, increased sensitivity, difficulty sleeping, frequent fatigue, headache, dizziness, muscular rigidity and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. 

Read more about the symptoms of fibromyalgia and how it is diagnosed. 

What to do: Treatment should be guided by a rheumatologist, who may prescribe analgesics, antidepressants, physiotherapy or regularly exercise. 

15. Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted by ticks that carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It can cause neurologic symptoms like hand and feet numbness and facial paralysis. 

This condition can lead to other issues, like heart problems, arthritis or meningitis. 

What to do: Treatment for Lyme disease usually involves the use of oral or IV antibiotics, prescribed by a family doctor or infectious disease specialist. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in January 2023. Clinical review completed by Marcelle Pinheiro - Physiotherapist in January 2023.

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Clinical review:
Marcelle Pinheiro
Physiotherapist
Physiotherapist degree provided by the University of Estácio de Sá (Brazil). Licensed to practice under CREFITO #170751.