What is numbness? Numbness is an abnormal condition in which a person feels tingling or a loss of sensation. Numbness can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most often felt in the extremities, such as the hands, feet, fingers, and toes. There are many different causes of numbness. Numbness usually arises from a lack of blood supply to an area, nerve compression, or nerve damage. Numbness can also result from infection, inflammation, trauma, and other abnormal processes. Most cases of numbness are not due to life-threatening disorders, but it does occur with stroke and tumors. Numbness is often associated with or preceded by pain-like pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations called paresthesias. Whereas numbness is a loss of sensation, paralysis involves a loss of movement, with or without the loss of sensation. The goal of the clinical evaluation is to identify the root cause for the numbness. Depending on the cause, numbness can disappear quickly, such as numbness in the hand and arm from sleeping on your arm that will fade away once you move your arm around. Chronic numbness in the legs or arms over a long period of time generally indicates some level of damage to the nerves, such as that due to diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Chronic numbness in the fingers may be due to nerve entrapment, as is the case in carpal tunnel syndrome. Because numbness can be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition, you should talk with your medical professional about any unusual sensations that last more than a few minutes. If you experience numbness with loss of bladder or bowel control, paralysis, confusion, weakness in the extremities or slurred speech, seek immediate medical attention (call 911) in an emergency facility.