Are the tingling and numbness in my hands caused by my diabetes?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
If you have tingling in your hands but not your feet, diabetes may be a contributor, but it is more likely that you have another problem, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tingling and numbness, as well as a lack of feeling and sometimes ongoing pain, are symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, meaning damage to nerves other than those of the brain and spinal cord. High blood sugar from diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Nerve injury occurs throughout the body, but the longest nerves-those with nerve fibers that start near the spine and end in the feet-are the most sensitive. For this reason, symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy almost always start in the feet, though it can eventually progress to the hands.
But other conditions can lead to neuropathy as well. Carpal tunnel syndrome, as I mentioned above, is one of them. In this condition, the median nerve, one of the main nerves to the hands, is compressed as it crosses the wrist. Pressure on the nerve causes symptoms that are very similar to those of peripheral neuropathy, but only in the hand.
Unfortunately, nerve injury from the two problems may be additive. If you have diabetes, high blood sugars may have damaged the nerves in your body enough to make you more sensitive to the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. For this reason, people with diabetes may have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome earlier than people who don’t have diabetes. In your case, both problems could be contributing. In some instances, specialized tests, such as electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction studies (NCS) may be helpful in determining the cause of these symptoms.

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