Do You Get Numbness In Your Fingers Or Tingling In Your Hands?
Watch the video to learn 6 causes of tingling and numbness in the fingers and hands. Plus, learn tips to reduce or get rid of the numbness and tingling.
What Causes Numbness In Fingers and Tingling In Hands?
There are a lot of different things that can cause tingling and numbness in your fingers and hands.
If you develop it suddenly without warning, it can be a little bit worrisome.
However, most of the time, the causes of numbness and tingling in your fingers and hands aren't very serious problems. It's still a sign that something is going on with your nerves. Either they aren't healthy, or they're being compressed.
Therefore, it's worthwhile to take the time to figure out what's wrong and what you need to do about it.
Systemic Causes Of Numbness In Fingers
There are a lot of systemic causes of tingling in your fingers and in your hands. Diabetic neuropathy is one common cause that affects the health of your nerves.
Diabetic neuropathy typically causes numbness and tingling in both your hands and your feet. That's called a "stocking and glove" pattern of numbness, for obvious reasons.
Certain vitamin deficiencies can also cause tingling in your fingers and in your hands.
However, many of the most common types of numbness and tingling are compressions of nerves, either in your hand, or in your elbow, or in your neck.
Those are the types of numbness and tingling that I'll cover in this post:
- Central spinal stenosis in the neck
- Pinched nerves in the neck
- Pinched nerves in the shoulder
- Ulnar nerve compression in the elbow
- Carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist
- Guyon canal syndrome
Central Spinal Stenosis In The Neck
Whenever I see a patient in the office who has numbness in their fingers or in their hands, the first thing that I want to rule out is something from the neck.
One cause of numbness and tingling that comes from the neck is spinal stenosis.
There are two types of spinal stenosis, and the one that I want to discuss first is the central spinal stenosis.
That's where the opening around your spinal cord becomes more narrow, and it actually pinches the spinal cord itself.
And that type of spinal stenosis can cause tingling and numbness in your fingers and in your hands. It can also cause tingling in your feet (stocking and glove pattern).
You may also notice that you have balance problems or difficulty walking. Neck pain or trouble looking upwards are common symptoms of central cervical stenosis.
Pinched Nerves In The Neck
T'shere another type of spinal stenosis where the nerves in the side of your neck called foraminal stenosis. In this condition, your nerves get pinched as they're exiting your spine.
That type of spinal stenosis usually just occurs on one side of the neck.
You may notice that you have numbness and tingling in just one hand or primarily in one hand.
If that's the case, then you want to find out what level that's coming from.
The different levels in your neck correspond to different areas in your hand where you may experience numbness or tingling.
If the numbness or tingling in your hand is coming from the C6 level in your neck, you're going to primarily feel it in your index and in your thumb.
If you have a C7 pinched nerve, you'll feel it primarily in the middle three fingers.
Finally, the C8 nerve root usually causes numbness in the ring finger and little finger.
Pinched Nerves In The Shoulder
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs between your neck and your shoulder. It's made up of the C4-T1 nerve roots which combine and cross in complex bundle before entering your arm.
The brachial plexus can cause numbness and tingling in any or all of the fingers of your hand. The most commonly affected fingers area the ring finger and little finger. This happens when the lower trunk of the brachial plexus gets compressed in a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome.
So, if you have numbness and tingling in your little finger, it may be coming from the C8 nerve root, or the brachial plexus, or your ulnar nerve, which is most commonly compressed at the elbow.
Ulnar Nerve Compression In The Elbow
Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow is called cubital tunnel syndrome.
The cubital tunnel is on the inside of your elbow. Colloquially, it's known as your "funny bone"
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In The Wrist
The most common cause of numbness in the fingers that people typically think of is carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel is a tunnel formed by the carpal bones of your wrist and a ligament called the transverse carpal ligament.
Your median nerve runs through the tunnel along with tendons to your fingers and thumb.
The median nerve supplies your thumb, index, and middle fingers. When you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may notice numbness in these three fingers along with weakness, loss of dexterity, or dropping things for no reason.
Usually, your little finger and your ring finger aren't affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Therefore, if you're having problems in these areas, it's most likely not carpal tunnel syndrome.
Guyon Canal Syndrome
One additional cause numbness and tingling in the ring finger and little finger that I didn't mention early actually comes from the hand itself.
Your ulnar nerve runs through a tunnel in your hand called the tunnel of Guyon.
Inside of Guyon's tunnel, the ulnar nerve splits into a superficial and deep branch. Compression of the ulnar nerve or it's superficial branch can cause numbness or tingling in the ring finger or little finger.
Usually, Guyan canal syndrome is caused by a fall on an outstretched hand or from sustained pressure on the area such as typing or resting your hands on the handlebars on a long bike ride.
So, those are some of the causes of numbness and tingling in your fingers and in your hands.
Summary Of The Causes Of Numbness In Fingers And Tingling In Hands
Just to run through the causes quickly before we get into some solutions, numbness in your fingers can come from:
- central spinal stenosis in your neck
- pinched nerve roots in your neck
- your brachial plexus
- the cubital tunnel at the your elbow
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- Guyon's canal syndrome
So, those are the causes of numbness and tingling in your fingers and hands.
Treatment For Numbness In Fingers And Tingling In Hands
So, what's the treatment numbness and tingling in your fingers and hands?
Well, as you might guess, it depends on what's causing the numbness in the first place.
I'll link out to other post for more details on each of the causes mentioned above, but here are a few general tips for each area.
Treatment For A Pinched Nerve In Neck
If you're having a pinched nerve on this side of the neck, usually looking upwards and bringing your head toward that side will further pinch that nerve.
Therefore, bringing your chin down towards your chest or moving your head away from the symptomatic side are some general tips to help.
Learn more exercises for a pinched nerve in your neck
Treatment For Central Spinal Stenosis
If you have central spinal stenosis, moving your neck to either side probably isn't going to affect your symptoms. However, looking downwards can functionally make the spinal canal larger. This can potentially relieve hand symptoms, even though it doesn't widen the diameter around the spinal cord.
Treatment For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
If you have a compression of your brachial plexus in your thoracic outlet, stretching your chest muscles maybe helpful.
Stiffness in the scalene muscles of your neck can also compress the brachial plexus in your thoracic outlet. So, sometimes stretching your scalene muscles can help relieve numbness or tingling in your hands.
Some people have one lower shoulder where one shoulder is lower than the other ones, and in that case, stretching your neck muscles can make the problem worse. If you happen to notice that one shoulder is lower than the other, then you probably don't want to stretch your neck muscles on that side.
To learn more, check out my post on exercises for thoracic outlet syndrome.
Treatment For Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The ulnar nerve in your cubital tunnel, gets compressed the most when you have your elbow maximally flexed or bent like this.
Therefore, avoiding positions where you're at end-range elbow bending can be helpful to relieve tingling and numbness in your fingers from cubital tunnel syndrome.
Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One of the best treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome is wearing wrist braces at night.
When you're sleeping at nighttime, you can't control the position that your hands are in. Therefore, you may end up folding your wrists underneath of you and compressing your median nerve in your carpal tunnel.
Wearing wrist braces while you're sleeping at night can help you sleep without waking up with numbness in your fingers and hands.
Additionally, office workers can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from using a keyboard. So if you use a keyboard for work, you want to avoid resting your wrist on the keyboard or on a wrist rest.
It's better to allow your forearms to rest on armrests and float your wrists and fingers over the keyboard.
It's also important to sit with good posture in your chair. Doing so helps with the neck and shoulder issues that may be contributing to the numbness and tingling in your hands. Additionally, when your rest your elbows on armrests, it also takes some pressure off of your wrists.
Doing wrist stretches can also help carpal tunnel syndrome. However, you probably DON'T want to stretch your palm toward your forearm if you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Learn more treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome here.
Treatment For Guyon's Canal Syndrome
With the tunnel of Guyon, ulnar nerve runs through a fixed area of ligaments and bones.
Therefore there aren't really many stretches or exercises for Guyon's canal syndrome.
The best treatment for Guyon's canal syndrome is just to avoid putting excessive pressure on your hand. Examples include avoiding leaning on the handlebars when you're biking and not leaning excessively on your hand when you're typing.
So, those were the causes of numbness and tingling in your fingers and hands.
Numbness in the fingers is a complex problem, so it is a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional That way you can find the cause of the numbness in your fingers and get the right treatment for it.
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