Numbness means lack of touch sensation. Numbness in hands and feet is quite a common symptom. But in a few, this problem may occur very frequently and persist for a long period of time, causing problems. Technical Ayurvedic term for this condition is ‘Supti vata’ in Ayurveda. Supti means sleep.
Causes for Numbness in hands and feet –
Exposure to cold objects
Severe cold weather
Excessive intake of cold and dry eatables.
Injury to the nearer vital points and nerves (sira marma Abhighata) – neck injury may cause numbness along your arm or hand, while a low back injury can cause numbness in the leg or feet.
Lumbar disk prolapse can cause numbness in legs. Similarly cervical spondylosis can cause numbness in hands.
Constant pressure over hands and feet – by sitting in the same position for a long period of time.
Pressure on peripheral nerves from enlarged blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue.
Animal / insect bite
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Neurological disorders such as spinal tumor, stroke, peripheral nerve compression, brain tumor, etc.
Blood vessel related conditions like aneurism (swollen / dilated artery), Transient ischemic attack (TIA – sudden but temporary loss of blood supply to a particular organ), Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels).
Complications of numbness:
If the complaint persists for long time, it may spread to nearer body parts or all over the body. In a diabetic patient, it may predispose the patient to non healing wounds. Varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (Gambheera Vatarakta), peripheral neuritis etc are also few complications.
Involvement of Tridosha in causing numbness:
The sensation of touch is caused by normal Vata Dosha and skin is also the place for Pitta. Hence, Vata and Pitta are imbalanced when there is numbness.
Treatment for numbness:
The line of treatment of Vatarakta (gouty arthritis) – to pacify vata and pitta, holds good here Alternate therapy using cold and hot medicines are effective.
In case of hidden causes, such as diabetes or underlying tumor, the respective cause should be given treatment, to decrease blood sugar levels, to get rid of tumor etc.
Tips to prevent numbness
Try to move the organ, like, take a walk, if you have leg numbness.
Keep the affected organ warm.
Do gentle pressure massage over the body to improve blood circulation.
Do not sit or sleep in one single position for a long period of time.
Numbness in legs during pregnancy, is more commonly due to pressure of the womb on the back. Try changing the sleep posture and sitting posture quite often.
Single herbs useful in treating frequent numbness:
1. Guduchi- giloy– Tinospora cordifolia – improves blood circulation, useful in blood related Vata and Pitta conditions
2. Amalaki-amla-Emblica officinalis – rich in anti oxidants, improves blood circulation
3. Haritaki-Chebulic myrobalan- Terminalia chebula
4. Bala – Sida cordifolia – improves nerve functions, calms nerve irritation
5. Punarnava – Boerhaavia diffusa – thins blood, useful if the cause is clot or vasculitis.
6. Draksha- Raisins – Vitis vinifera – soothing, useful if the cause is injury.
7. Prishniparni -Uraria picta – good anti inflammatory herb.
8. Jeevanti – Leptadena reticulata – useful in nerve injuries
9. Rasna – Alpinia galanga / Pluchea lanceolata – useful in nerve injuries,
10. Devadaru – Cedrus deodara etc – useful in vascular conditions.
Ayurvedic medicines useful in numbness treatment:
1. Mahanarayana taila – useful in carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries etc.
2. Pinda taila – useful when Pitta is associated.
3. Sahacharadi taila
4. Narayana taila
5. Mahamasha taila – widely used in neurological conditions
6. Ekangaveera rasa – useful in neurological disorders
7. Sameerapannaga rasa
8. Navajeevana rasa
9. Yogaraja guggulu
10. Mahayogaraja guggulu
11. Balarishta– most of the above are used in nerve related disorders.
Diet and habits
Etiological factors are to be avoided.
Warm water, red rice, wheat, drumstick, aloe vera juice, date fruits, cumin seeds and raisins are well indicated in this condition.
Numbness starts as simple and non complicative symptoms; but if neglected, continue as complications. If it is due to head injury, begins very suddenly but lasts for a unusually long period of time, associated with dizziness, confusion, difficulty in talking, then you need to contact your doctor immediately. It is always better to consult the physicians in both these conditions to rule out any underlying pathology and get proper treatment, based on causative factors.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) Ph.D (Ayu) and Dr Hebbar.