Numbness in Fingers

1 Numbness in Fingers

  • Numbness in the fingers is known to affect the ability of the individual in picking up things.
  • The individual would feel clumsy as if they have lost all strength in their hands.
  • Few of the causes would include broken fingers, diabetes, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and many more factors.

Ample amount of rest is known to reduce the occurrence of injuries. Based on the underlying medical condition or the cause which has led to the numbness in the fingers, the doctor may also recommend certain treatments.

Numbness is said to be caused due to prickling feelings and tingling sensations which feels like someone is lightly touching the fingers with a needle. In certain cases, the individual who experiences numbness would also feel a slightly burning sensation. Numbness in the fingers is said to affect the ability of the individual in picking up things. The individual would feel clumsy as if they have lost strength in their hands.

The symptoms which occur in finger numbness would range from annoying to those that occur very rarely. In certain cases, it can be something that has impacted the individual in such a manner making it difficult to perform any kind of tasks, be it the daily tasks itself. Whatever the symptoms may be, there are non-invasive treatments available to treat it.

2 Causes

The nerves in the body are said to be responsible for transferring or transmitting messages to and from the brain. In case the nerves become compressed, irritated or get damaged, then it can lead to numbness in that region.
Few of the examples of those conditions which are known to cause numbness in the fingers would include:

  • Diabetes: There is a condition known as diabetic neuropathy which can lead to damage to the nerves in the feet as well as in the hands. In such cases, the feet are the first to feel the numbness. It can lead to numbing and tingling sensation in the fingers and in the feet as well. The blood vessels which are attached to the nerves present in the hands as well as the feet of the person suffering from diabetes tend to get damaged due the increase in the sugar level in the blood. As diabetes progresses, the damage also increases gradually. In one of the surveys, it was seen that nearly half of all of those individuals who suffer from diabetes also have some form of nerve damage, but in their case the damage of the nerve can cause an impact on any part of the body. The key to prevent neuropathy is to manage the levels of blood glucose in the body.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This particular condition is said to occur when the nerves that provide feelings to the hands get obstructed or pinched. This condition is known to lead to numbness which happens in the index and middle fingers and in certain cases, it can occur in the thumb as well.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease that leads to swelling, pain and tenderness in the joint region. This particular condition can also lead to numbness, burning sensation and tingling in the hands.
  • Cervical radiculopathy: This is known to occur when a particular nerve in the neck gets compressed or inflamed. This particular medical condition can also lead to numbness which is very similar to that experienced in the carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also called as pinched nerve.
  • Raynaud’s disease: This particular medical condition causes the small arteries present in the fingers to spasm, thereby leading to numbness and also affecting the normal circulation.
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment: In case of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is said that it affects the median nerve present in the arm, but in case of ulnar nerve entrapment, it is said to affect the ulnar nerve that is connected to the little finger. This quite often leads to numbness in the ring finger as well as the little finger.
  • Broken finger: When a finger is broken, then it is said to cause numbness as well as other symptoms such as swelling, finding it difficult to move the finger or tenderness in the affected region. A fractured finger cannot be considered as a minor injury, hence if there is lack of proper treatment or no timely treatment is carried out, then it can lead to serious complications.

When there is a fracture in the finger, then it can roughly take about seven to eight weeks to heal. The treatment would include X-rays along with a splint for supporting the fractured finger to be aligned in a proper way. In case the fracture is very severe, then the best method is to go in for surgery, wherein pins and screws would be used for holding the bones intact in one place.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, rare causes of numbness in the fingers are HIV, stroke, alcohol abuse, vasculitis, Lyme disease, amyloidosis, leprosy or Hansen’s disease, AIDS, fracture which has occurred on the hand or the wrist, ganglion cyst, deficiency caused due to Vitamin B12, side effects caused due to certain medications such as use of chemotherapy drugs for cancer, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, syphilis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.

3 When to Visit the Doctor

At times, numbness and tingling sensations could be a sign of medical emergency, so it is important not to ignore such symptoms and reach out for medical help immediately. This is especially true when the individual is experiencing a stroke which is known to happen when the clotting of blood or bleeding tends to affect the brain. In case the individual is experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is important to reach out for medical help:

  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Paralysis
  • Feeling weak or fatigued all of a sudden
  • Numbness in the hand or finger
  • Finding it difficult to breath
  • A severe form of headache
  • Slurriness in the speech

When these symptoms or any of the other symptoms start to occur on a regular basis or tend to interfere with the daily tasks or activities, then inform your doctor. In case the symptoms cause discomfort or any kind of pain, then also let the doctor know about this.

4 Diagnosis

The doctor would carry out the diagnosis of the numbness in the fingers by noting the individual’s medical history as well as a physical examination of the hands, arms and fingers. In certain cases, the doctor would recommend that the individual reach out to a medical specialist such as an orthopedic, who is a doctor specialized in taking care of any concerns related to hands or a neurologist who is good in carrying out tests of the functioning of the nerves.

One of the other common tests which the doctor can order when the individual is suffering from numbness in the fingers is going in for an MRI scan. An MRI scan is helpful for getting a better view of those areas like the wrists, neck, fingers, shoulders and arms, where the bones would have slipped out of place. When the bones tend to slip out of place, then it can lead to compression on the nerves. 

Carrying out blood tests would also be helpful in diagnosing the conditions which may have led to causing numbness in the fingers, such as a few medical conditions which may include deficiency of Vitamin B12 or rheumatoid arthritis.

5 Prevention

Most of the times, it has been seen that several causes of numbness caused to the fingers happens due to overuse injuries or frequent occurrence of injuries in the fingers. This is when the person is often engaged in activities or any kind of repetitive motions. This in turn can lead to irritation or damage to the nerves ultimately leading to numbness in the fingers.

Below are few of the methods which one can use to avoid repetitive motion related injuries:

  • Whatever activity one is carrying out, especially those which involve sitting in front of the computer or constantly typing, one should take a break every 30 to 45 minutes for at least five minutes and relax your hands and shoulders.
  • One can also purchase certain supportive devices or ergonomic items which can include a wrist rest or a wrist brace for the keyboard.
  • It is important to always maintain as well as practice a good posture while sitting, lying down or standing. This becomes even more important when the individual is using certain tools, any kind of devices or a keyboard which can lead to repetitive motion injuries.
  • Whenever one gets the time, take a break and stretch the muscles as much as you can to reduce the tension and relax the muscles and nerves.

Most of the cases for numbness in the fingers is seen as a treatable option unless they are also accompanied by medical emergency symptoms. Ample amount of rest is known to reduce the occurrence or overuse injuries.

Based on the underlying medical condition or the cause which has led to the numbness in the fingers, the doctor may also recommend specific treatment. It is important to note and understand that the quicker one treats the numbness in the fingers, the less is the likelihood that it would turn out to be a permanent symptom. Hence, it is important to make a note of any unusual changes or signs in the body.

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