Abnormal sensations like numbness and tingling in hands and fingers are mostly short lived and not serious. Other times there is a more serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed by a physician.
When the hand numbness begins to last longer, or it comes and goes all the time, it could certainly be a result of one of these 4 common conditions.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Compression of the median nerve as it moves into the hand is the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Located on the palm side, this nerve gives us sensation and our ability to feel things. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in one or both hands. This extra pressure can lead to inflammation and swelling as the hands, wrist, and arm can become numb and tingly. Women between 30 and 60 are the demographic most affected by this particular condition.
The tingling may occur in the all fingers except the pinky at first. After a while, the tingling may become constant. It can happen while reading the paper or holding up an object for a time like a cell phone. Holding a steering wheel while driving is another common situation that can result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel can be the result of other conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure
- Retention of fluid
- Fractures to the hand and wrist
- A dysfunctional thyroid
Your tingling or numbness in the hands is likely to become more intense with repetitive motions like using the mouse and keyboard for your computer. Because of factors like these, individuals in certain occupations are more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Non -surgical treatments include the following:
- Wrist splints for night time use
- Avoid certain positions of your wrist and hands
- Pain medications to reduce inflammation
- Steroid injections
- Treatment of underlying conditions like diabetes
Surgery may be required if the nerve is severely damaged. Talk with a hand surgery specialist if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Ganglion cysts are non-cancerous, but noticeable lumps, that develop along the tendons or joints in our wrists and hands, and sometimes they can even occur on the ankles and feet. These cysts are filled with a thick lubricating fluid, and can be pea sized or up to an inch in diameter. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are among the most likely to develop ganglion cysts.
These cysts can become rather painful if they press on a nerve, which can result in numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness of the area surrounding the ganglion cyst.
Once diagnosed, a ganglion cyst may be removed via aspiration which draws out the liquid through a needle. If there are no symptoms, they may go away on their own. A splint can be used to ease the pressure on the nerve and relieve any pain. Surgery may be suggested if other treatment methods are not successful.
Never try to pop the cyst yourself by inserting a needle because this can lead to an infection.
These cysts can recur, so you may need to seek treatment multiple times as needed.
Raynaud’s phenomenon affects many people who live in cold climates. Fingers and toes can become numb when someone is cold or when they are stressed. When this happens, the tiny arteries that supply blood to the skin become narrow, which limits the amount of blood that is able to reach the affected area. If this occurs, the fingers can turn white and then blue as they become numb. As the area warms, stress decreases, and the circulation returns, the area can become red and tingly.
This condition can occur even when hands or feet touch cold water, when someone reaches for something in the freezer, or just by being out in the cold air.
Primary Raynaud’s is more common, less severe, and can resolve on its own.
Secondary Raynaud’s is more serious and is caused by another underlying condition. Examples include lupus, atherosclerosis, primary pulmonary hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few.
To avoid flare ups of Raynaud’s disease you should stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, try to manage stress, and engage in mild exercise to increase circulation. In addition, these treatment options can also be quite helpful in relieving your symptoms:
- Medications to dilate the blood vessels and increase circulation
- Wear extra layers of gloves and socks, and make sure to stay bundled up in cold weather
- Diagnose and treat any underlying conditions
- Chemical injections
- Nerve surgery
- In only the most extreme cases, amputation may be necessary
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
This condition occurs with pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve located on the inner side of the elbow. Also known as the “funny bone,” pressure on this nerve can cause numbness or tingling in the fingers plus pain and weakness in the hands.
Cubital tunnel syndrome can occur when leaning on your elbow, placing your arm on an arm rest, or sleeping with your elbows bent as all of these can cause unnecessary stretching of the nerve.
The first suggestion is to avoid activities that cause your symptoms. Sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s true. Other suggested treatments include:
- Wearing a splint on the elbow while sleeping
- Wrapping a towel loosely around your elbow at night is another option
- Avoid leaning on your funny bone
- Sometimes surgery is needed for severe cases, but it is not always successful
Contact the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas if you are experiencing any numbness or tingling in your hand or fingers as they will be able to recommend an ideal course of treatment based on your unique case and symptoms. To schedule an appointment, please call (713) 597-8027 or fill out our simple online form.