When should I call the doctor?

Because the causes of numbness vary greatly, some cases require more urgent medical care than others. Seek emergency medical attention if numbness is accompanied by:

  • Confusion
  • Inability to control bladder or bowel movements
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of sensation in face or trunk of body
  • Paralysis
  • Speech or vision changes
  • Rapid or sudden weakness

Also seek emergency care if:

  • Numbness comes on suddenly
  • Numbness occurs in the “saddle area” (thighs, buttocks, genitals)
  • Numbness affects an entire arm, entire leg, or one entire side of the body
  • Numbness occurs below a certain level in the body (for example, below the chest)
  • Numbness or weakness quickly spreads to other areas of the body

Most cases of numbness are less urgent, but a doctor should still assess them. Contact your doctor if numbness:

  • Does not have an obvious cause
  • Occurs during repeat activities/motions
  • Causes loss of strength or muscle control over time
  • Is accompanied by a rash

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