You may experience a tingling sensation or numbness during pregnancy, also described as a "pins and needles" feeling. It usually affects the hands, fingers, feet or legs. Also, the stretching of the belly as the pregnancy progresses can sometimes cause numbness in that area as well. Most pregnant women experience these symptoms at some point during their pregnancy. Read this post to learn more about numbness during pregnancy, including whether it's normal, its symptoms, possible causes, how to treat and manage it, how to avoid it, and whether numbness is an early sign of pregnancy.
Is numbness during pregnancy normal?
Numbness is usually normal as the uterus grows and presses on the nerves that supply the legs. You may also experience tingling in your hands and fingers, especially after waking up in the morning. These sensations will likely disappear after delivery (1). If you experience other symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, pain, bleeding, blurred vision, or swelling, along with numbness, consult your doctor.
Numbness symptoms during pregnancy
In addition to numbness in your fingers, hands, legs, and feet, you may experience other symptoms, such as:
A tingling, burning, itching, and tingling sensation under the skin Radiating pain Confusion Paralysis Dizziness Difficulty speaking Rash Loss of bladder or bowel control (2)
These symptoms can keep you awake at night. They usually occur in mid to late pregnancy along with weight gain and fluid retention.
Possible causes of numbness and tingling in pregnancy
Common causes of numbness or tingling sensation include:
- Hormonal changes, especially an increase in levels of the hormone relaxin, which stretches ligaments with a growing pregnancy, can shift your center of gravity and affect your posture. This can lead to compression (or pinching) of the nerves, causing pain and a burning sensation in the thighs, legs, back, and buttocks (3).
- Bodily changes, the growing uterus can put pressure on the muscles, nerves and ligaments, causing numbness and tingling sensations (1).
- Water retention that occurs in the second and third trimesters can cause swelling in the hands and feet (4). This swelling can also contribute to numbness in the extremities and can put pressure on or cause pain in the surrounding area (5).
- Numbness in the hands and fingers can develop due to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), which occurs when pressure builds up on the median nerve in the wrist due to water retention. It is one of the common complications in pregnancy, and one study reports that its frequency reaches 62%. You may have symptoms like:
Numbness or tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger or radial half of the hand Dysesthetic pain in the wrist (pain due to burning sensation) Loss of grip strength and dexterity (difficulty holding objects) Pain radiating to the forearm and shoulder
These symptoms are likely to be worse at night and worse during strenuous activity and changes in wrist position (6). Numbness in the legs, back and butt can be caused by two conditions: sciatica and meralgia paresthetica.5. Sciatica, caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, affects about 30% of pregnant women (7). It can occur due to weight gain and water retention that put additional pressure on the spine and sciatic nerve. Along with the numbness and tingling sensations, you may experience other symptoms such as pain, burning and muscle weakness in your leg, lower back, buttocks and hips (8).6. Meralgia paresthetica is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) which supplies sensation to the lateral (front and lateral) aspect of the thigh. It is likely to cause numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in your thigh. Symptoms may be limited to one leg and may intensify when standing or walking (9). Numbness and tingling can also be symptoms of certain pregnancy-related conditions. So check with your doctor to find out what exactly is causing the numbness.7. Iron deficiency anemia can lead to restless legs syndrome, which is a neurological disorder in which you may have an overwhelming urge to move your legs. You will feel tingling or tingling sensation in your legs (10).8. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve damage that can cause numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes, which in most circumstances is temporary and can be treated. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, memory loss, balance problems and behavioral changes (11).9. Preeclampsia leads to swelling of the legs, hands, face, and sometimes the entire body. It can be a potential cause of numbness and if combined with headache, visual changes, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, it needs medical attention (12).10. Gestational diabetes can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands or feet. It is accompanied by frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, frequent hunger and excessive thirst. It may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life and therefore needs proper treatment (13).
How to deal with pregnancy numbness?
These remedies can help control numbness or tingling in your hands, fingers, legs, back, or buttocks during pregnancy.
Soaking your hands in warm water or using a warm compress can relieve numbness.
Do not lean on your hands while sleeping, as this can intensify the numbness and pain. Consult your doctor about using a wrist brace. You can use it, especially while sleeping, to keep your wrist in a neutral position. Stretch your hands and wrists while doing any activity continuously. Repetitive motions such as shaking or rubbing can relieve tingling and pain (14). I sleep freely on the side that is not affected by any numbness or pain. An ice pack can help reduce swelling that could cause numbness. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy can ease the pain associated with the numbness. Do not stand for long periods of time as this can aggravate the numbness or tingling sensation in your legs and toes. You can sleep on your side with both knees raised and a pillow between your knees. This can reduce the chance of numbness.
While sitting, you can slightly bend your knees so they are level with or higher than your hips (7). Use a walker or cane to get around if you have trouble balancing your body. Check with your doctor and try light exercises that can strengthen your muscles (15).
Treatment for numbness in pregnancy
Treatment for numbness or tingling sensation depends on its cause. Your doctor may suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the pain associated with the numbness (16).
Can numbness be avoided?
You may not be able to prevent numbness, but you can reduce your chances by making some changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet to gain a healthy weight during pregnancy. Reduce salt, sugar and fat and drink plenty of water. Take the necessary supplements in consultation with your doctor.
Stay away from alcohol, as the toxins it contains can damage your nerves and cause numbness. Minimize time spent on activities like typing, knitting or sewing, especially if you are at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Buy a supportive maternity bra that can take the weight off your breastbone and ribcage, which could put pressure on the median nerve. Correct posture is important when sitting, standing or sleeping. Wear non-slip shoes that fit well and have soft soles.
Is numbness a sign of early pregnancy?
Numbness is probably not a sign of pregnancy unless it is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome (common in pregnancy). It occurs when water accumulates in the tissues of the wrist, which can compress the median nerve that runs to the hands and fingers. This can therefore cause numbness and a tingling sensation (6).
Numbness and Tingling
As your uterus grows, it may press on the nerves in your legs. This may cause some numbness and tingling (feeling of pins and needles) in your legs and toes. This is normal and will go away after you give birth (it may take a few weeks to months).
Pressure on peripheral nerves from enlarged blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue, or infection. Shingles or herpes zoster infection. Other infections such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, syphilis, or tuberculosis. Lack of blood supply to an area, such as from hardening of the arteries, frostbite, or vessel inflammation.What causes numbness and tingling in arms and hands during pregnancy? ›
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. It can develop during pregnancy thanks to hormonal changes – an increase in fluids during pregnancy compresses the median nerve in the wrist causing a sense of weakness in the hand and the tingling feeling.Why is my whole body tingling pregnant? ›
Weight increase, fluid retention, and hormones are the most common causes of numbness and tingling during pregnancy.How do you get rid of numbness during pregnancy? ›
General numbness and tingling of the hands, fingers, back, legs, and buttocks during pregnancy can be treated by a gentle massage, making sure to vary your sleep positions (using a pregnancy body pillow helps a lot), soothing baths, and stretching.What nerve is affected during pregnancy? ›
A common issue for pregnant women is sciatic nerve pain. Also called sciatica, or lumbar radiculopathy, it's described as a "radiating pain" that travels from the sciatic nerve, located in the lower spine, down the back of your thigh. The sciatic nerve is the largest in your body and the main nerve in the legs.What is the difference between numbness and tingling? ›
Numbness (lost, reduced, or altered sensation) and tingling (an odd prickling sensation) are types of temporary paresthesia. These sensations commonly occur after sitting or standing in a particular position or even wearing tight clothing for too long. This puts pressure on nerves and blood vessels, reducing sensation.What are the causes of numbness and tingling in hands and feet? ›
Nerve damage caused by high blood sugar is the most common cause of numb or tingly hands and feet. Untreated diabetes may have other symptoms, too. You might feel thirsty, pee a lot, or your breath may smell fruity. Your doctor can test your blood to see if you have diabetes.Does numbness and tingling mean nerve damage? ›
The signs of nerve damage include the following: Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Feeling like you're wearing a tight glove or sock. Muscle weakness, especially in your arms or legs.What causes numbness and tingling in both arms and legs? ›
Blocked or compressed blood vessels can interfere with blood circulation to and from the heart. Poor circulation can cause numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Reduced blood flow can cause other symptoms, such as: cold hands and feet.
These include: an injury, such as a herniated disc, compressing or injuring a nerve (if it's in your neck it will affect your arm, if it's in your back it will affect your leg) diabetes. chronic kidney disease. stroke or a mini-stroke (numbness will be on one side)What disorder causes numbness and tingling in the hand and arm? ›
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of the hand. When the median nerve is compressed, symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm.Why do I feel a weird tingling sensation in my body? ›
Causes. There are many possible causes of numbness and tingling, including: Sitting or standing in the same position for a long time. Injuring a nerve (a neck injury may cause you to feel numbness anywhere along your arm or hand, while a low back injury can cause numbness or tingling down the back of your leg)Can pregnancy cause nerve issues? ›
Neuropathies during pregnancy and the postpartum period are common and are usually due to compression around pregnancy and childbirth. The most common peripheral neuropathies are Bell's palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and lower extremity neuropathies.Is tingling in body serious? ›
In some cases, feelings of numbness and tingling can indicate a serious injury or medical condition. Get urgent medical care or have someone call for you if you experience any of the following: an injury to the back, neck, or head. the inability to walk or move.What is the best treatment for numbness? ›
Care and Treatment
Some common treatments for numbness include: Nerve pain medications. Regulating blood sugar in people with diabetes. Physical therapy exercises to strengthen the spine or help ease movement.
- Engage in regular physical activity. In general, it is safe to engage in physical activity during pregnancy. ...
- Ensure adequate sleep. ...
- Practice mindfulness. ...
- Journaling. ...
- Schedule worry time. ...
- Yoga, massage, meditation, and acupuncture.
- engaging in regular physical activity.
- trying relaxation exercises.
- eating a healthful diet.
- getting enough sleep.
- identifying triggers and finding new ways to approach them.
Neuropathic pain is a common pain disorder that is caused by problems in the nervous system. It affects more women than men and commonly occurs in pregnancy.What do numb hands mean during pregnancy? ›
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, and they usually go away after pregnancy.
Also, any symptoms of confusion, vision or speech changes, weakness, or loss of consciousness should prompt a visit to a local emergency department. Numbness and tingling associated with neck or back pain, arm or leg pain, muscle spasms, or rash require a call or visit to your physician but are less urgent in nature.What doctor treats numbness and tingling? ›
If you have ongoing problems with numbness and/or tingling, you'll need to have the condition checked by a neurologist. Paresthesia or neuropathy is determined and diagnosed through a patient's medical history and a physical exam.What causes numbness and tingling in feet and legs? ›
Long-term numbness or a tingling feeling in the legs and feet may be due to conditions such as multiple sclerosis(MS), diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or fibromyalgia. The sensation may be felt in the whole leg, below the knee, or in different areas of the foot.How do I get rid of numbness and tingling in my hands and feet? ›
Warm Compress is a best to fix to promote the blood circulation in the affected hands and feet. Giving warm compress promote blood circulation and improve the functioning of the nerves and aids in treating the tingling sensation.How do I get rid of numbness and tingling in my arms and hands? ›
- Take the pressure off. Taking pressure off of the affected nerve allows it to regain normal function. ...
- Move around. ...
- Clench and unclench your fists. ...
- Wiggle your toes. ...
- Rock your head side to side.
If your nerves or blood vessels have been compressed from posture or pressure, it can be as simple as changing your position, uncrossing your legs, or changing out of the tight clothing to get rid of the pins and needles within one to two minutes.What is the difference between numbness and neuropathy? ›
Numbness is literally a reduced or absent perception of sensation in a part of the body. With peripheral neuropathy, a person may suddenly experience numbness in their hands or feet without warning. This can lead to problems when walking or keeping balance.What vitamins treat nerve damage? ›
Vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12 have been found to be especially beneficial for treating neuropathy. Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, helps to reduce pain and inflammation and vitamin B-6 preserves the covering on nerve endings.Does numbness and tingling go away? ›
In many cases, paresthesia goes away on its own. But if any area of your body regularly goes numb or gets that "pins and needles" feeling, talk to your doctor. They'll ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. They also may recommend certain tests to figure out what's causing your paresthesia.What does numbness and tingling in both hands mean? ›
Hand numbness can be caused by damage, irritation, or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist. Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness, although with diabetes, similar symptoms usually occur first in your feet.
4. Tingling Sensation. If you can feel a slight tingling sensation in your fingers and toes, then you may be experiencing some form of dehydration. You may also start to experience a light numbness at the back of your eyes, which is another sign that you might be suffering from it.Can dehydration cause numbness? ›
Dry mouth, numbness/tingling may be seen in electrolyte abnormalieis, dehydration, uncontrolled diabetes, medication side effect, or GERD/reflux.What are early warning signs of MS? ›
Those symptoms include loss of vision in an eye, loss of power in an arm or leg or a rising sense of numbness in the legs. Other common symptoms associated with MS include spasms, fatigue, depression, incontinence issues, sexual dysfunction, and walking difficulties.When should I worry about tingling in my hands and feet? ›
Tingling in the feet or hands may feel unpleasant, but the cause is not usually serious. However, severe or persistent tingling may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a pinched nerve, a vitamin deficiency, or diabetes complications.Does preeclampsia cause numbness in hands? ›
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia
Swelling or puffiness in your fingers, feet, face or eyelids. Numbness in your hands or feet. Severe headaches or pain in your abdomen. Severe shortness of breath.
With preeclampsia, you might have high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine that indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had previously been in the standard range.Is periodic numbness normal in pregnancy? ›
During pregnancy you may notice a mild numbness from time to time in your legs. Numbness and tingling may be normal when you are pregnant, especially as your baby gets bigger.Is neuropathy common in pregnancy? ›
Neuropathies during pregnancy and the postpartum period are common and are usually due to compression around pregnancy and childbirth. The most common peripheral neuropathies are Bell's palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and lower extremity neuropathies.What are three signs of preeclampsia in pregnancy? ›
- severe headache.
- vision problems, such as blurring or flashing.
- pain just below the ribs.
- sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet.
See your doctor if you experience intermittent numbness or tingling in one or both hands. Get emergency medical care if the numbness: Began suddenly. Follows an injury or accident.
- High blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Blurred vision.
- Swelling of the face, hands and feet.
- Upper abdominal pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- HELLP syndrome (severe form of preeclampsia)
Toxemia, or preeclampsia, is a complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, such as the liver or kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in individuals whose blood pressure had previously been in a healthy range.What triggers preeclampsia? ›
Many experts think preeclampsia and eclampsia happen when a woman's placenta doesn't work the way it should, but they don't know exactly why. Some think poor nutrition or high body fat might contribute. A lack of blood flow to the uterus could play a role. Genes are also a factor.What trimester is preeclampsia most common? ›
Most of the time, preeclampsia affects women in the third trimester pregnancy. We've had patients who developed preeclampsia as early as the second trimester, but this usually occurs in women at increased risk due to underlying medical problems. Preeclampsia can affect any organ system in the body.How do you know if numbness is serious? ›
Also seek emergency medical care if your numbness is accompanied by: Weakness or paralysis. Confusion. Difficulty talking.Why do I sometimes suddenly feel numb? ›
Numbness is caused by damage, irritation or compression of nerves. A single nerve branch or several nerves may be affected, as with a slipped disk in the back or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist.Does pregnancy numbness go away? ›
Topic Overview. Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, and they usually go away after pregnancy.What is the number one medical condition that causes neuropathy? ›
Diabetes. This is the most common cause. Among people with diabetes, more than halfwill develop some type of neuropathy.Does anything trigger neuropathy? ›
Nutritional or vitamin imbalances, alcoholism, and exposure to toxins can damage nerves and cause neuropathy. Vitamin B12 deficiency and excess vitamin B6 are the best-known vitamin-related causes. Several medications have been shown to occasionally cause neuropathy.What can I take for neuropathy while pregnant? ›
Treatment of neuropathic pain in pregnancy
Treatment should usually be overseen by an obstetrician and pain specialist, and medication options may include amitriptyline (usually offered first) and then possibly duloxetine, gabapentin or pregabalin.