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Q: Whole-Body Numbness ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Whole-Body Numbness
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: raheybob-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 11 Jul 2005 13:07 PDT
Expires: 10 Aug 2005 13:07 PDT
Question ID: 542273
I have two acquaintances who have been suffering from intermittent
whole-body numbness lately.  Both are 21 years old; one is a slender,
active female and the other is an obese, sedentary male.  The male
says the numbness starts up one leg and gradually engulfs his whole
body, including his face. It lasts for about 2 hours, and occurs about
once a week.  He suffers from a severe headache during this
experience, plus gets severe headaches daily without the numbness, and
is often nauseous and vomits in the morning.  The female experiences
similar whole-body numbness, but with dizziness, and does not have
headaches or nausea.  Both have sought treatment and diagnoses in the
hospital.  They each have had some sorts of scan(s) and tests that
apparently ruled out stroke. The male?s blood pressure was normal; I
don?t know about the female?s.  Doctors told the male they didn?t know
what it was, but maybe migraines. The female, who doesn?t get the
headaches, was given no answers.  They both live in the same town in
the Sacramento Valley of northern California, but do not know each
other.  This sounds serious to me, and I am very worried about them. 
The male does not have insurance and so is limited in his pursuit of
answers. What are the possible causes?
Subject: Re: Whole-Body Numbness
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 11 Jul 2005 16:14 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello Raheybob,

   How caring of you to be so concerned with your acquaintance?s
health! It is likely that it is coincidental that your friends have
similar symptoms, since they are not related, nor know each other.
Although your friends have similar symptoms, they may not be caused by
the same condition. The symptoms you describe are non-specific and
pertain to numerous conditions and disorders. It's unfortunate about
your male friend?s lack of insurance, as getting an accurate diagnosis
will involve doctor visits and testing. Let me advise you that my
answer is in no way a diagnosis, and is not intended to replace advice
from a licensed physician.

Numbness and tingling have many different possible causes, including:

·?Remaining in the same seated or standing position for a long time.
·Injuring the particular nerve supplying the body part where you feel
the sensation. The injury can be in the neck, back, wrist, elbow, leg,
or elsewhere. If you have a neck injury, for example, you may feel the
sensation anywhere along your arm or hand. Similarly, a low back
injury can cause sciatica -- a sensation of numbness or tingling down
the back of your leg.
·Lack of blood supply to the area. For example, plaque buildup from
atherosclerosis in the legs can cause pain, numbness, and tingling
while walking. (This is called claudication.)
·Pressure on the spinal nerves, like that from a herniated disk.
·Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness or tingling in your wrist,
fingers, hand, or forearm.
·Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, an underactive
thyroid, multiple sclerosis, seizures, or migraine headaches.
·Changs in electrolytes, like abnormal levels of calcium, potassium,
or sodium in your body.
·Vitamin B12 deficiency.
·Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke
·Certain medications, including chemotherapy for cancer, chloroquine
for malaria, D-penicillamine, isoniazid for tuberculosis,
nitrofurantoin, gold therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, or phenytoin
for seizures.
·Toxic action on nerves, such as that from lead, alcohol, or tobacco.
·Radiation therapy.?

 You say stroke has been ruled out in both people, but the symptoms sure fit. 
?Warning signs are clues your body sends that your brain is not
receiving enough oxygen. If you observe one or more of these signs of
a stroke or "brain attack," don't wait, call a doctor or 911 right
·Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one
side of the body
·Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding 
·Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes 
·Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination 
·Sudden severe headache with no known cause 
Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness,
and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes the warning signs may last only a
few moments and then disappear. These brief episodes, known as
transient ischemic attacks or TIAs, are sometimes called
"mini-strokes." Although brief, they identify an underlying serious
condition that isn't going away without medical help. Unfortunately,
since they clear up, many people ignore them. Don't. Heeding them can
save your life.?

Risk Factors:
·  High blood pressure. 
·  Cigarette smoking. 
·  Heart disease. 
·  Warning signs or history of stroke. If you experience a TIA, get help at once. 
·  Diabetes

?List of symptoms of Stroke: The list of symptoms mentioned in various
sources for Stroke includes:
·Sudden onset of symptoms - some strokes come on quickly 
·Gradual onset of symptoms over hours or days - some strokes take time to onset 
·One-sided numbness 
·One-sided weakness 
·One-sided paralysis 
·Temporary limb weakness 
·Limb tingling 
·Trouble speaking 
·Trouble understanding speech 
·Trouble seeing in one eye 
·Trouble seeing in both eyes 
·Dim vision 
·Loss of vision 
·Trouble walking 
·Loss of balance 
·Loss of coordination 
·Sudden severe headache 
·Noisy breathing 
·Transient Ischemic Attack - a TIA may be a precursor to full stroke 
·Loss of consciousness 
·Disturbance of consciousness 
·Less common stroke symptoms 
oSudden nausea 

Symptoms of Stroke: The symptoms of stroke are easy to spot: sudden
numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body; sudden
confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble
seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking; dizziness; or loss
of balance or coordination.?

There is a different kind of stroke, called a TIA (Transient ischemic
attack) It?s a form of mini-stroke, and often precedes a stroke (brain

?A TIA is caused by a temporary state of reduced blood flow (ischemia)
in a portion of the brain. This is most frequently caused by tiny
blood clots (microemboli) that temporarily occlude a portion of the
brain. The microemboli are caused by atherosclerotic plaque in the
arteries that supply the brain. Atherosclerosis ("hardening of the
arteries") is a condition where fatty deposits occur on the inner
lining of the arteries. Atherosclerotic plaque is formed when damage
occurs to the lining of an artery. Platelets clump around the area of
injury as a normal part of the clotting and healing process.
Cholesterol and other fats also collect at this site, forming a mass
within the lining of the artery. Clots (thrombus) may form at the site
of the plaque, triggered by irregular blood flow in this location, and
the thrombus may occlude the blood vessels in the brain. Pieces of
plaque or clots may break off and travel through the bloodstream from
distant locations, forming an embolus that can occlude the small
arteries, causing TIAs. Occlusions that last for more than a few
minutes more commonly cause stroke.?

Vitamin B Deficiency:

Please don?t suggest to your friends that they begin taking large
amounts of B12 supplements. A standard multi-vitamin will do,
especially without having a blood test to determine if there is a
lowered level of B12.

?Other characteristic features seen with B12 deficiency include
paresthesia (numbness and tingling in the hands and legs), inability
to maintain balance when walking, weakness and excessive fatigue, loss
of vibration and position sense, irregular menstrual cycles, and a
range of psychiatric disorders including disorientation, depression,
mood disturbances, irritability, memory loss, and dementia. Vitamin
B12 deficiency is fairly common in the elderly and is associated with
dementia and other neurological disorders seen in the geriatric

?Although vitamin B12 deficiency may result from a number of factors,
the major reason is lack of adequate B12 absorption. In order to be
absorbed in the small intestine, vitamin B12 in food must be combined
with an intrinsic factor-a protein made by the stomach. Receptors for
B12 absorption occur in the ileum, the lowest portion of the small
intestine. Adults secrete about 5-7 micrograms of B12 in the bile
daily. Normally we reabsorb most of this. As long as vitamin B12
absorption is effective, a deficiency may not readily develop.
However, it can take only about three years to become B12 deficient if
one stops absorbing the vitamin.
The lack of B12 absorption usually results from: 
1. a lack of B12 in the diet because of poor food selection; 
2. a lack of intrinsic factor secretion due to aging, gastritis, or
the partial removal of the stomach by surgery (gastrectomy);
3. lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, especially in the elderly; or 
4. ileal resection or ileitis.?

?Most diets provide adequate B12; deficiency is often a result of
absorption problems. In the stomach's acidic environment and through
the action of the enzyme pepsin, vitamin B12 is released from food.
Two proteins are important for the vitamin's absorption and transport:
intrinsic factor (IF) and R proteins. A B12 deficiency can result if
there are any problems with pepsin, IF, or R proteins. Reduced
secretion of IF is often a problem in mid- to late-life.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
·	pernicious or megaloblastic anemia
·	numbness and tingling of the arms or legs
·	difficulty walking
·	fatigue
·	sore tongue
·	loss of appetite
·	constipation
·	memory loss
·	disorientation
·	moodiness
·	damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering around nerves
·	dementia

The following populations may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency
and may require a supplement:
·	People with pernicious anemia. This condition occurs when there is
an absence of intrinsic factor. A person who has pernicious anemia
will need to be monitored by a physician and take lifelong
supplemental vitamin B12.
·	Older adults. The incidence of B12 deficiency among the elderly may
be as high as 15 percent. A multivitamin may not contain enough B12 to
compensate; talk with your health care provider about what your
specific needs are for supplementation.
·	People with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. GI disorders, like
celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or GI surgery, can lead to
malabsoprtion of B12.
·	Strict vegetarians. B12 is generally not present in plant foods; it
is found only in animal products. Vegetarians who consume no animal
products may need to supplement with B12. Fortified cereal can be a
good source of vitamin B12 for a vegetarian.
·	People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Alcoholics tend to
have diets lacking in several essential nutrients, including B12.?

Systemic Lupus (SLE):

?Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an "autoimmune" disease that
affects many parts of the body and can be fatal. A person's defense
system, which normally attacks "foreign" bodies, begins to attack the
body itself.

Antibodies are protein molecules that the body produces to help fight
infection and cancer. An antigen is any substance that causes the
production of antibodies and combines specifically with them.
Normally, the body produces antibodies that only attach themselves to
"foreign" antigens from outside the body, like viruses or bacteria.
The antibody and antigen fit together like a lock and key. This
process disables the virus or bacterium and protects the body.?

?Symptoms affecting the nervous system: 
·	memory loss, problems with concentration
·	headaches, including migraines
·	seizures
·	strokes
·	bleeding in the brain
·	loss of coordination
·	a sense of numbness, pain, or "pins and needles" in the hands and feet
·	problems with the major nerves in the head and face?

?Signs And Symptoms Of Peripheral Nervous System Lupus
In peripheral nervous system lupus, a variety of symptoms may occur
depending on which nerves are involved.
·	Involvement of the cranial nerves can cause: 
o	visual disturbances 
o	facial pain 
o	drooping of the eyelid(s) 
o	ringing in the ear(s) 
o	dizziness. 
·	Inflammation of the blood vessels supplying the peripheral nerves
can lead to symptoms of
o	numbness or 
o	tingling in the arms or legs 
·	Occasionally, loss of sensation or muscular weakness in the
extremities (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome in the hands) can occur.
These symptoms may be due to conditions other than lupus. Electrical
studies, such as electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction tests are
usually helpful in determining if symptoms are due to some other
cause. For example, a herniated disc or a metabolic abnormality as in
diabetes can cause similar nervous system symptoms, but show different
electrical study results.
Inflammation of the peripheral nerves (called mononeuritis multiplex)
is treated with corticosteroids.?


?Sparkling flashes of light, zigzag lines in your field of vision,
weakness, numbness or tingling in your face, hand or leg, difficulty
seeing or speaking.
Symptoms may last for 5 to 15 minutes or more. As the symptoms
disappear, a throbbing headache begins on one side of the head. The
severity of the headache increases. Once the headache becomes very
painful, people often experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to
light and noise.?
?In a classic migraine, there is usually a warning. Eyesight may
suddenly change. Bright spots or zigzag lines are seen. Some people
experience double vision or temporary, partial blindness. The change
is eyesight is often followed by numbness and tingling of the lips,
face, hands (on one or both sides), weakness of an arm or leg,
dizziness, unsteadiness in walking, drowsiness, slight confusion of
thinking, and inability to speak or slurred speech. Some people may
have only one or a few of these symptoms, and they tend to occur in
the same combination in each attack.?

?The aura phase of the migraine is due to transient brainstem and
cerebellar ischemia, which can be mistaken for a transient ischemic
attack of the vertebrobasilar circulation. The symptoms noted in the
aura phase of the basilar artery migraine are the result of a
combination of disturbances in the cerebellum, brainstem, and
occipital lobes, which generally last for less than one hour. The aura
phase usually begins with a bilateral disturbance of vision that may
occasionally progress to temporary blindness. Visual symptoms are
followed by varying combinations of ataxia, dysarthria, bilateral
vertigo, tinnitus, changing levels of consciousness, bilateral
paresthesias of the limbs, face, and tongue, and quadriparesis. Other
brainstem- related symptoms less commonly noted include nystagmus,
diplopia, and decreases in hearing?
?Basilar migraines may be precipitated or exacerbated by ingestion of alcohol?

Alcohol Consumption:

?Alcohol, or ethanol, is a poison with direct toxic effects on nerve
and muscle cells. Depending on which nerve and muscle pathways are
involved, alcohol can have far-reaching effects on different parts of
the brain, peripheral nerves, and muscles, with symptoms of memory
loss, incoordination, seizures, weakness, and sensory deficits. These
different effects can be grouped in three main categories: (1)
intoxication due to the acute effects of ethanol, (2) withdrawal
syndrome from suddenly stopping drinking, and (3) disorders related to
long-term or chronic alcohol abuse. Alcohol-related neurologic disease
includes Wernicke-Korsakoff disease, alcoholic cerebellar
degeneration, alcoholic myopathy, alcoholic neuropathy, alcohol
withdrawal syndrome with seizures and delirium tremens, and fetal
alcohol syndrome.?

?In patients who abuse alcohol over many years, chronic alcoholic
myopathy may develop. Males and females are equally affected. Symptoms
include painless weakness of the limb muscles closest to the trunk and
the girdle muscles, including the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper
arms. This weakness develops gradually, over weeks or months, without
symptoms of acute muscle injury. Muscle atrophy, or decreased bulk,
may be striking. The nerves of the extremities may also begin to break
down, a condition known as alcoholic peripheral neuropathy, which can
add to the person's difficulty in moving.?

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy:

?What Is Diabetic Neuropathy Like?
Diabetic neuropathy can cause pain that usually affects the arms,
legs, hands, and feet. It can also affect other areas of the body,
such as the digestive system and urinary bladder. Neuropathy can also
be caused other conditions such as infectious diseases, blood
diseases, and immune system disorders.

It is helpful to understand the different types of nerves that can be
involved. The sensory nerves send messages back to the brain about
various sensations, such as temperature, pain, and movement. Motor
nerves send signals from the brain to the muscles to tell them to
move. Autonomic nerves are involuntary, and control such things as
heart rate, smooth muscles, and the function of glands. Diabetic
neuropathy can cause pain in the nerves of both legs or partial or
complete loss of feeling, particularly in lower limbs. The pain is
often worse in bed at night. A less common type involves weakness,
severe pain, and muscle wasting.

Neuropathic pain can feel like burning, prickling, tingling, aching,
stabbing, pins and needles, shooting, and even like an electrical
current "buzz." The most common type of neuropathic pain occurs on
both sides of the body, as in both legs and feet, or both hands.
Neuropathic pain can come and go or it can continue for a long time.

Femoral neuropathy refers to pain in the thigh. This type of
neuropathy can be accompanied by muscle wasting and weakness. In some
cases, muscle wasting affects both thighs without any pain. There may
also be areas of decreased feeling (sensation) or numbness. Patients
might not be able to distinguish between sharp and dull sensations (a
pinprick compared with a rubber pencil eraser, for example).

Loss of sensation in the lower limbs and feet contributes to the risk
of developing foot ulcers. This is one reason it is important that
persons with diabetes wear properly fitting shoes and regularly
examine their own feet for sores or other skin changes. Your health
care provider can discuss appropriate foot care and monitoring with

?Neuropathy Affects Nerves Throughout the Body
Peripheral Neuropathy 
·	toes
·	feet
·	legs
·	hands
·	arms
Autonomic Neuropathy
·	heart and blood vessels
·	digestive system
·	urinary tract
·	sex organs
·	sweat glands
·	eyes
Proximal Neuropathy
·	thighs
·	hips
·	buttocks
Focal Neuropathy
·	eyes
·	facial muscles
·	ears
·	pelvis and lower back
·	thighs
·	abdomen
Peripheral Neuropathy
This type of neuropathy damages nerves in the arms and legs. The feet
and legs are likely to be affected before the hands and arms. Many
people with diabetes have signs of neuropathy upon examination but
have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include
·	numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
·	a tingling, burning, or prickling sensation
·	sharp pains or cramps 
·	extreme sensitivity to touch, even a light touch
·	loss of balance and coordination
Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves in your arms, hands, legs, and feet.

MS (Multiple Sclerosis):

?A disorder of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system)
caused by progressive damage to the outer covering of nerve cells
(myelin). This results in decreased nerve functioning which can lead
to a variety of symptoms.?

?Symptoms vary because the location and extent of each attack varies.
There is usually a stepwise progression of the disorder, with episodes
that last days, weeks, or months alternating with times of reduced or
no symptoms (remission). Recurrence (relapse) is common although
non-stop progression without periods of remission may also occur.

The exact cause of the inflammation associated with MS is unknown.
Geographic studies indicate there may be an environmental factor
involved. MS is more likely to occur in northern Europe, the northern
United States, southern Australia, and New Zealand than in other area.
The "intertropical belt" seems to have much lower rates of this
condition. There seems to be a genetic link to the disease, with some
families more likely to be affected than others and certain genetic
markers are more common in people with MS than in the general

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms & Signs
·	weakness of one or more extremities
·	paralysis of one or more extremities
·	tremor of one or more extremities
·	muscle spasticity (uncontrollable spasm of muscle groups)
·	muscle atrophy 
·	movement, dysfunctional 
o	slowly progressive
o	beginning in the legs
·	numbness, decreased or abnormal sensation in any area
·	tingling 
·	facial pain 
·	extremity pain
·	loss of vision -- usually affects one eye at a time
·	double vision 
·	eye discomfort 
·	rapid eye movements, uncontrollable
·	eye symptoms worsen on movement of the eyes
·	decreased coordination 
·	loss of balance 
·	decreased ability to control small or intricate movements
·	walking/gait abnormalities 
·	muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
·	dizziness 
·	vertigo 
·	urinary hesitancy, difficult to begin urinating
·	strong urge to urinate (urinary urgency)
·	frequent need to urinate (urinary frequency)
·	incontinence (leakage of urine, loss of control over urination)
·	decreased memory
·	decreased spontaneity
·	decreased judgment
·	loss of ability to think abstractly
·	loss of ability to generalize
·	depression 
·	decreased attention span
·	slurred speech 
·	difficulty speaking or understanding speech
·	fatigue, tired easily?
Understand that not all symptoms occur in all patients, and that the
severity of symptoms also varies with each patient.

?A history of at least two attacks separated by a period of reduced or
no symptoms may indicate one pattern of attack/remission seen in MS
(known as relapsing remitting pattern). If there are observable
decreases in any functions of the central nervous system (such as
abnormal reflexes), the diagnosis of MS may be suspected.

Examination by the health care provider may show focal neurologic
deficits (localized decreases in function). This may include decreased
or abnormal sensation, decreased ability to move a part of the body,
speech or vision changes, or other loss of neurologic functions. The
type of neurologic deficits usually indicate the location of the
damage to the nerves.
Tests that can confirm MS:
·	?head MRI scan that shows scarring or a new lesion
·	spine MRI scan that shows scarring or a new lesion
·	lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
·	CSF oligoclonal banding 
·	CSF IgG index

Metabolic/Dysmetabolic Syndrome

?If you have metabolic syndrome, your body experiences a series of
biochemical changes. Over time, these changes lead to the development
of one or more associated medical conditions. The sequence begins when
insulin, a hormone excreted from your pancreas, loses its ability to
make your body's cells absorb glucose from the blood-your body uses
glucose for energy. When this happens, glucose levels remain high
after you eat. Your pancreas, sensing a high glucose level in your
blood, continues to excrete insulin. Loss of insulin production may be
genetic or secondary to high fat levels with fatty deposits in the
If I have metabolic syndrome, what health problems might develop?
Consistently high levels of insulin and glucose are linked to many
harmful changes to the body, including:
(1) Damage to the lining of coronary and other arteries, a key step
toward the development of heart disease or stroke
(2) Changes in the kidneys' ability to remove salt, leading to high
blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
(3) An increase in triglyceride levels, resulting in an increased risk
of developing cardiovascular disease
(4) An increased risk of blood clot formation, which can block
arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes
(5) A slowing of insulin production, which can signal the start of
type 2 diabetes, a disease that can increase your risk for a heart
attack or stroke and may damage your eyes, nerves or kidneys?


?(Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). Is caused by - a simple injury,
football, athletics, falling over - perhaps a fracture, perhaps a
minor operation. A nerve or tissue gets injured - and the resulting
pain is totally disproportionate to the injury (a severe intense
'Burning' pain that is not relieved by strong pain killers). The pain
may go on for months, even years long after the initial injury has
healed. The pain is often much worse at night - and not just because
of tiredness. The symptoms that can occur are:
·	Intense burning pain - this may radiate to previously unaffected areas. 
·	Numbness, sensation disturbances on the skin - this may also radiate
to previously unaffected areas.
·	Loss of control of the affected limb or another previously
unaffected limb - weakness, numbness.
·	An occasional cold or cool affected limb. 
·	Swelling of the affected limb. 
·	Headaches. 
·	Nausea. 
·	Insomnia. 
·	Lethargy. 
·	Abnormal Sweating. 
·	Changes in skin texture. 
·	Recurrent infections. 
·	Depression.

?The etiology of RSDS is not yet. well understood. Surgery, trauma,
infections, cerebral lesions, spinal and spinal cord dysfunction, and
ischemic heart disease are frequently defined as the primary causes,
but one third or more of patients with RSDS have no definitive
precipitating factors.
Several current theories of the pathogenesis of RSDS exist. One theory
is that initial trauma incurs tissue damage, resulting in chronic
irritation of a peripheral sensory nerve. This produces an increased
number of afferent pulses to the spinal cord and sets up a normal
sympathetic reflex arc to any painful stimuli. No temporary
vasoconstriction of small vessels occurs. If the sympathetic arc does
not shut down as it usually does, an abnormal sympathetic reflex may
result. The most widely accepted neurological explanation of RSDS is
that a painful stimulus enters the spinal cord via the afferent nerve
fibers and stimulates the internuncial pool. Interconnection neurons
spread the stimulus upward, downward, and across the spinal cord in
short and long circuits, stimulating the lateral and anterior tracts.
Efferent autonomic stimulation then reaches the peripheral tissues,
producing local circulatory disturbances and muscle spasms that add to
the already-noxious stimuli. This produces the so-called "vicious
cycle." The increase in activity produces a continuous and increased
stimulation of afferent motor and sympathetic neurons, resulting in
various responses in the periphery.?

Spinal Stenosis and Pinched Nerves
?People with stenosis usually have back pain most of the time. They
also may have leg pain, numbness or weakness. The leg pain and
numbness usually start when you stand up and begin to walk or
exercise. The leg pain has been described as a burning or prickly
feeling that may start in the buttocks and spread down to the feet
when you start walking.
Your legs might also feel cramped, tired or weak. These are symptoms
of a condition called neural claudication of the legs. If you have
lumbar canal stenosis, the neural leg claudication starts when you
stand up, gets worse when you walk and gets better when you stop
walking. Often, the leg pain gets better if you crouch or lie in a
fetal position (on your sides with your knees tucked up to your
chest). It's thought that these positions "open" the lumbar canal and
take the pressure off the nerves that go to the legs.?

?In the late stages of spinal degeneration, bone spurs from the
degenerative process can cause a condition known as spinal stenosis.
As the bone spurs form, the size of the spinal canal becomes smaller.
The bone spurs begin to press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots.
Pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord can cause numbness,
tingling, or pain in the arms, hands, and legs. This condition is
sometimes called cervical myelopathy. It is from the simpler problem
where only one nerve root is being pinched by a herniated disc or a
bone spur.?
?When there is narrowing of the spinal canal, the bony tube through
which the spinal cord runs, the whole spinal cord may be affected.
This is different than when the bone spurs only narrow one of the
foramen - the openings where the nerve roots exit. The symptoms are
much different. A pinched nerve from either a herniated disc or a bone
spur rarely affects the legs. Cervical myelopathy can affect both the
arms and the legs.

Pressure on the spinal cord, as it runs through the cervical spine,
can cause many symptoms. Cervical stenosis can cause weakness and
spasticity in the legs. Spasticity means you to lose control over your
legs and you may have a great deal of difficulty walking due to loss
of control of where you place your feet. You may have numbness in both
the upper extremities and the lower extremities. Your reflexes may be
increased in the legs. You may lose the strength in your legs. You may
lose your "position sense". This is the sensation that allows you to
"know" where your arms and legs are when you have your eyes closed.
For example, you may not be able to tell whether your arm is up in the
air or down by your side, unless you can see it.?

?The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves and nerve cells that extends
the length of your spine. The cord is housed inside a channel (spinal
canal) within the vertebrae. Thirty-one pairs of nerves branch off
from the spinal cord, providing communication between your brain and
the rest of your body. In spinal stenosis, one or more areas in the
spine narrow ? especially in the upper or lower back ? putting
pressure on the spinal cord or on the roots of these branching nerves.
This pressure can lead to a wide range of problems ? cramping, pain or
numbness in your legs, back, neck, shoulders or arms; a loss of
sensation in your extremities; and sometimes problems with bladder or
bowel function. Most often, spinal stenosis results from degenerative
changes in the spine caused by aging. But tumors, injuries and other
diseases can also lead to narrowing in the spinal canal.
Mild symptoms may be helped by conservative treatments such as pain
relievers, physical therapy or a supportive brace. In more serious
cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to create additional space
for the spinal cord or the nerves.?

?When one has a pinched nerve in the low back, pain is usually
perceived as radiating down the leg. Here again, the symptoms the
person experiences seem to them to be traveling into the leg along the
distribution that the nerve usually travels. This is the basis of
?referred pain?. Muscle spasm in the back commonly accompanies pinched
nerves and can be quite painful. Sometimes, nerves can be pinched and
the only symptoms may be numbness and weakness in the arm or leg
without any pain whatsoever.?

?Numbness and tingling that extend down one arm may mean you have a
pinched nerve (nerve root compression) in the neck.
The most common cause of a pinched nerve is arthritis. Bony growths
(osteophytes) press on the nerve roots that branch from the spinal
canal. A pinched nerve in the neck can also be caused by injury, a
herniated disc, or a tumor or infection of the spine. When a nerve has
been pinched in the neck, numbness and weakness of the hands or arms
may occur, as well as pain.
Numbness and tingling is more serious if it occurs in both arms or
both hands rather than just one arm or one hand.?

Additionally, some herbs, herbal teas and supplements have been know
to cause whole body numbness, as a toxic reaction. The herbs can
irritate the nervous system. Anti-depressants and other medications
are known to cause numbness  as well. I?d check with your friends to
see if they have been overdoing herbal supplements. When visitng the
doctor, your friends need to tel the doctor of any and all medicines,
supplements and herbals they may be taking.

If any part of my answer is unclear, contains broken links, or
contains information you already had, please request an Answer
Clarification, before rating. By not rating until I have responded to
your clarification request, I may continue assisting you on this
question. This answer is for informational purposes only.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Sensory loss
Paresthesias + extremities + face
SLE + numbness
Diabetes + neuropathy

Clarification of Answer by crabcakes-ga on 11 Jul 2005 22:07 PDT
Hello again Raheybob,

   One of my colleagues has suggested Carbon Monoxide poisoning as a
possible cause of your friend's numbness.

"Symptoms of CO poisoning vary depending on the concentration of CO
gas in the environment, the length of exposure, and the health of the
person who is exposed. If you are suddenly exposed to very high levels
of CO gas in a poorly ventilated room, you can develop:

    * Headache
    * Shortness of breath
    * Personality changes
    * Unusually emotional behavior or extreme swings in emotions
    * Fatigue
    * Malaise (a generally sick feeling)
    * Dizziness
    * Clumsiness or difficulty walking
    * Vision problems
    * Confusion and impaired judgment
    * Nausea and vomiting
    * Rapid breathing
    * Chest pain
    * A rapid or irregular heartbeat 

Without immediate treatment, you can lose consciousness, experience
convulsions, slip into a coma, and die. Death can result from only a
few minutes of exposure to higher concentrations of CO gas or from an
hour of exposure to lower levels of CO.

If you are exposed to very low levels of CO gas over a longer period,
weeks or months, your symptoms can mimic a flulike illness, with
headache, fatigue, malaise (a general sick feeling) and, sometimes,
nausea and vomiting. People with long-term exposure to low levels of
CO also can have numbness, unexplained vision problems, sleep
disturbances, and impaired memory and concentration."

Perhaps you could ask them if they use a fuel burning furnace,
kerosene heater, or have recenty brought their grill inside!

Regards, Crabcakes

Clarification of Answer by crabcakes-ga on 12 Jul 2005 16:20 PDT
Hi Raheybob,

   I'm sorry you were not completely satisified with your answer.
Researchers strive to provide the best answers possible, and I can
assure you it took me a lot longer than 40 minutes to compile. (It
actually took me 2-3 hours, filtering non-trustworthy sites)

   I tried to make you aware that Google Answers can not diagnose and
I made it clear that symptoms of the same
conditions/diseases/disorders vary from person to person. While much
of my answer IS a cut and paste job, finding reliable and trustworthy
information takes time. I do not supply information from sites that
sell snake oil from, which had I done, would
have saved me considerable time.

  Since we at Google Researchers are NOT doctors, all we can offer IS
cut and pasted information from trusted sites. To NOT do so would mean
we could make serious mistakes. If you scan other answers, you will
find a majority of our answers are compliled from information found
online, and cited as such.

  Since this is probably your first time using GA, be aware that you
can take advantage of the Answer Clarification function to dialogue
with the researcher, to clear up any miscommunications, untill you get
a satisfactory answer. I would have been happy to assist you further,
had you requested an Answer Clarification.

  Sincerely, Crabcakes
raheybob-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
I believe Crabcakes provided enough information that the cause(s) of these 
conditions can be found somewhere in his/her answer. There was a great deal 
of helpful information. However, almost the entire answer seemed like a 
cut-and-paste job that I doubt took over 30-40 minutes to compile; it 
clearly was not a well-thought-out response from a professional with 
specific knowledge in this field. Although in the very title of my question 
I specified "whole-body" numbness, some of the possibilities provided were 
only applicable to limited numbness, so I had some filtering to do.  If I 
were to pay based on my post-response assessment, I would only have offered 
$60-75 for this.

Subject: Re: Whole-Body Numbness
From: sftolaandback-ga on 22 Jan 2006 19:54 PST
have your friends tried psychiatric evaluations? 

-Panic Attacks cause numbness and dizzyness and are often accompanied
by a feeling of a heart attack and severe headache.

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