Make a doctor’s appointment if your numbness develops gradually, affects both sides of the body equally, occurs intermittently, seems related to certain repetitive motions or only affects limb parts, such as the toes or fingers, explains Mayo Clinic. Seek emergency treatment if you experience numbness that starts suddenly, occurs in the entire arm or leg, or follows a head injury. Do the same if the numbness occurs with confusion, paralysis or weakness, difficulty talking, dizziness or a sudden, severe headache.
Numbness has a number of causes and is usually harmless, but it sometimes may indicate a dangerous condition, states Mayo Clinic. Expect a CT scan or MRI if the numbness follows a head injury or if the doctor wants to check for a brain tumor or stroke.
A damaged, irritated or compressed nerve or nerve branch, usually in the outer part of the body, causes numbness, explains Mayo Clinic. Diseases, such as diabetes, that affect the peripheral nerves can also cause numbness. Numbness is seldom caused by brain or spinal cord malfunctions and is only rarely an indicator of such potentially deadly disorders as strokes or tumors.
To make a proper diagnosis, your doctor needs detailed information, according to Mayo Clinic. Determining the cause of the numbness may require numerous tests prior to treatment.