Numbness in arms and legs – symptoms of office syndrome

Numbness can occur anywhere in the body but it is most commonly experienced in hands, feet, fingertips, arms, and legs. Numbness symptoms range through loss of feeling, thick and blotchy skin, feeling like being pricked with needles, and feeling a burning or tingling pain like an electric shock. When they start, these sensations may feel minor and just a nuisance in everyday life. However, numbness is recognized as one of the sensory neurological symptoms that may indicate the onset of office syndrome, so it shouldn't be overlooked. Rather, we should find what’s causing the sensation and solve it before serious complications occur.

The many causes of numbness include:

  1. Sitting or standing in the same position for a long time such as: sitting cross-legged; working with hands at a computer all day; using hands and fingers with a mobile phone for a long time, and others. Compression of nerves in arms and legs blocks blood supply to the body and weakens organ function.
  1. Accidents that directly impact nerves.
  1. Side effects of illnesses such as cervical spondylosis, degenerative disc, diabetes, shingles, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and others.
  1. Vitamin B deficiency due to malnutrition or gastro-intestinal problems.
  1. Taking certain drugs or other substances that cause nerve inflammation.

The cause of numbness can be determined by exploring the above factors or, for a more qualified diagnosis, consult a doctor. Once the cause is known, the treatment can proceed accordingly and may include any of the following:

  1. Avoid staying in the same posture for a long time. To keep your body running regularly, get up, change your posture or stretch at least every hour.
  1. Setup your working environment in a suitable way such as positioning the work surface so your hands are comfortable, placing the computer screen at eye level to prevent excessive bending, and choosing a chair with the right height to sit comfortably.
  1. Exercise appropriately for your symptoms such as stretching specific muscles for flexibility and weight training for muscle strength. This should be done with care and consistency.
  1. Select foods that contain vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which help maintain a healthy nervous system. Such foods include meats, sunflower seeds, brown rice, nuts, milk, egg yolks, and others.
  1. Choose accessories to reduce muscle contraction while sitting at work, including a chair with back and neck support and a wrist rest to use with the computer mouse.

If you notice numbness, don’t ignore it. To maintain a healthy body in the long run, look for the cause and adjust your behavior accordingly or consult a doctor.


• Drug Information Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University

• Samitivej Hospital

• Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital

• Bangkok Hospital