Did you know that about 5% of the population suffers from carpal tunnel? Carpal tunnel is one of many reasons why a person may experience numb hands. Other reasons may have to do with your spine health or certain health conditions.
But whatever the case, numb hands can not only be frustrating to deal with but they can also be scary, especially if you don’t know what’s causing them. If you have numb hands, you will want to think back to when you first started experiencing them. You will also want to think about how the symptoms have changed over time, if at all.
And, of course, you will want to find treatment for this problem as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about what might be causing your numb feeling and what you can do to fix it.
What Causes Numb Hands in the First Place?
If you cannot feel your hands and hand numbness has become a regular problem for you, you likely have something serious to worry about. However, if your hand becomes numb only briefly and only once in a while, it may be nothing serious. You may have only rested your weight on your arm for too long and compressed a nerve which caused your hand to go numb temporarily.
But if your problem is persistent or has repeatedly come back for a long period of time, you will need to know more about the potential causes. As mentioned before, carpal tunnel is a big culprit when it comes to a numb or weird feeling in your hands. The numbness may only occur in one or both hands.
A carpal tunnel is not only a medical condition but also a location in your wrist. There is a real tunnel that goes through the middle of your wrist. This tunnel acts as a highway for nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments that run from your forearm into your hand.
In particular, the median nerve runs through this tunnel and this nerve is what allows you to control your thump and the rest of your fingers except for your pinky. Your pinky, on the other hand, is controlled by a separate nerve known as the ulnar nerve.
The problem with the median nerve is that there isn’t much space in the carpal tunnel, especially if the carpal tunnel becomes inflamed for any reason. For example, if you do a lot of typing or any other activities that involve a lot of fine hand coordination, you may be more at risk for developing carpal tunnel. These activities tend to make the median nerve swell.
What You Need to Know About Hand Numbness
Once the median nerve starts to swell, the nerve will no longer be able to send important nerve signals to the rest of your hand. As a result, it may be hard to feel your hand or even move your fingers. Some people find that the resulting numbness eventually turns into pain, though this does not happen for everyone.
If you don’t get this problem fixed, you could actually end up with nerve damage. This could interfere with your ability to feel and move your hands for the rest of your life. But carpal tunnel isn’t the only thing that can cause numb hands.
Other nerve conditions can also cause you to lose feeling in your hands. For example, you may have a slipped cervical disc. This disc would occur high up in your spine near the base of your skull.
The nerves from this part of your spine are responsible for innervating your arms and hands. As long as this part of your spinal column is in good health, you shouldn’t have any problems, but if a disc slips, you may lose sensation in your hand and maybe even your entire arm. Extreme pain may also accompany the loss of sensation or loss of control.
A slipped disc is when the gelatinous part of your spinal column slips out or bulges between your two boney vertebrae. When this happens, the nerves from that part of the spine will not be able to send signals to your arms and hands.
Strokes and vitamin deficiencies may also cause numbness in the hands.
Other Reasons for Numb Hands
In developed parts of the world, there are not many people who have vitamin deficiencies severe enough to cause numbness of the limbs. This is because most of the food that we eat is already supplemented with all the vitamins we need to survive.
Diabetes is a more common cause of hand numbness. However, people with diabetes usually experience numbness in their feet and legs rather than their hands. This numbness occurs because people with diabetes have compromised blood flow.
The condition makes it difficult for blood to flow throughout the body. Since blood is full of oxygen and nutrients, the tissues that have reduced blood flow won’t be as healthy as tissues that receive more blood flow. As a result, these tissues will lose sensation and they may even lose their function.
Some people with severe diabetes need to have their feet or hands amputated because not enough blood can flow to those areas to keep the tissue alive. Some people with autoimmune conditions may also experience numbness in their hands.
For example, people with lupus often experience inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can actually end up compressing nerves that lead to the hands. When this happens, you may experience hand pain or hand numbness that won’t seem to go away.
But what should you do about your numb hands once you have them? The solution may be simple or complicated depending on the cause of the numbness.
How to Treat Numb Hands
The first line of treatment for numb hands is medication. Medication is the least invasive way to treat this problem and it often improves the symptoms for many people. Both OTC pain medication and prescription medication are useful for this condition.
However, medication will not be helpful for all the potential causes of numb hands. In some cases, other treatment methods may be necessary. When it comes to pain medication, the medication works because many people also experience pain in addition to numbness.
Some people find that the numbness tends to turn into a burning or prickly pain. However, OTC pain medication can only do so much. For some, this kind of medication may not work at all.
If this is the case for you, you will need an alternative treatment method. There are some medications that work not by treating the symptoms but by treating the cause of the symptoms. For example, steroid medications may be helpful for some people.
This is because steroid medications help to reduce inflammation in the body. If your hand numbness is caused by inflammation, such as with lupus, steroid medication may be of great help to you.
By reducing the inflammation in the body, there will be less tissue pressing on your nerves.
As a result, your hands should not experience as much numbness or pain. Anticoagulant medication may also be a good choice for some people. For example, if you have diabetes, in particular, anticoagulants can be very helpful to you. They will help thin out your blood and make it easier for the blood to flow into your hands.
As a result, your hands will receive better blood flow and more nutrients. This should help them regain their sensation and you should be able to control your hands better.
You shouldn’t rely on medication alone to fix your numb hands and other health problems. Lifestyle changes are also very important for maintaining your health and reducing any hand numbness you may have. In particular, people who are overweight tend to have more problems with numb hands than people who are at a healthy weight.
People who are overweight are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes. For that reason, it is important to lose weight and stay at a healthy weight for the rest of your life. While this may sound like a difficult task, it is important if you care about your health and getting sensation back in your hands.
There are many ways you can go about losing weight. The amount of food you eat is actually more important than the number of hours you exercise. If you don’t eat too many calories, you won’t have to spend so many hours at the gym in the first place.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
The problem is that not many people realize how many calories they eat. More often than not, you’re eating far more calories than you think you are. A good way to start losing weight is to start paying more attention to the nutritional information printed on food labels and boxes.
That way, you can stay within your means and only eat the number of calories that you’re supposed to eat every day. As long as you cut back, you will start to lose weight without much effort. Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables will also ensure that your body has the right nutrients it needs to function as it should.
If your body is overloaded with sugar, salt, and carbs, it won’t be at its best. Of course, to lose weight at a faster rate, you should exercise on a regular basis.
Exercising, in general, is very important because it helps to improve the flow of blood throughout your body. But what should you do if lifestyle changes still don’t fix your numb hands?
Surgery is usually the last option that your doctor will recommend because it is so invasive. However, if nothing else works for your numb hands, surgery may be the only option. This is especially true if you have carpal tunnel that is causing your numb hands.
Fortunately, carpal tunnel is a relatively common surgery and it is also low-risk. For that reason, you are unlikely to experience any complications if you go in for this surgery. In particular, your surgeon will cut through a ligament within the carpal tunnel.
Cutting this ligament will free up space for your median nerve. As a result, your median nerve will no longer be compressed and it will have more space to function. If the surgery goes well, you should regain feeling and function in your hand.
Your surgeon may do this by making one small incision on your wrist or he may create many small incisions. Whatever the case, the result should be the same. If the problem is not with your wrist but rather with your spine, you may still need surgery.
Spinal surgery, of course, is much more invasive and dangerous than wrist surgery. This is because the surgeon will be operating so close to very important nerves. However, as long as you get a good and experienced surgeon, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about except for the lengthy recovery process.
You may not be a good candidate for this kind of surgery if you have heart problems. Your doctor will decide whether or not you should go through with this kind of surgery to fix your hand numbness.
Everything You Need to Know About Numb Hands
Numb hands can be hard to deal with for a variety of reasons. The sensation may be painful and it may be hard to move your fingers. Whatever the case, there are many treatment options available.
Medication, lifestyle changes, and surgery are all viable treatment options. To learn more about treating your numb hands, contact us here.